Increased DNA Methylation Contributes to the Early Ripening of Pear Fruits during Domestication and Improvement
Published:30 May2024    Source:Genome Biology
DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic modification. However, its contribution to trait changes and diversity in the domestication of perennial fruit trees remains unknown. Here, we investigate the variation in DNA methylation during pear domestication and improvement using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing in 41 pear accessions.
Contrary to the significant decrease during rice domestication, we detect a global increase in DNA methylation during pear domestication and improvement. We find this specific increase in pear is significantly correlated with the downregulation of Demeter-like1 (DML1, encoding DNA demethylase) due to human selection. We identify a total of 5 591 differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Methylation in the CG and CHG contexts undergoes co-evolution during pear domestication and improvement. DMRs have higher genetic diversity than selection sweep regions, especially in the introns. Approximately 97% of DMRs are not associated with any SNPs, and these DMRs are associated with starch and sucrose metabolism and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis. We also perform correlation analysis between DNA methylation and gene expression.
We find genes close to the hypermethylated DMRs that are significantly associated with fruit ripening. We further verify the function of a hyper-DMR-associated gene, CAMTA2, and demonstrate that overexpression of CAMTA2 in tomato and pear callus inhibits fruit ripening. Our study describes a specific pattern of DNA methylation in the domestication and improvement of a perennial pear tree and suggests that increased DNA methylation plays an essential role in the early ripening of pear fruits.