Induced methylation in plants as a crop improvement tool: Progress and perspectives

Clémentine Mercé, Philipp E. Bayer, Cassandria Tay Fernandez, Jacqueline Batley, David Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Web of Science)


The methylation of gene promoters is an epigenetic process that can have a major impact on plant phenotypes through its control of gene expression. This phenomenon can be observed as a response to stress, such as drought, cold/heat stress or pathogen infection. The transgenerational heritability of DNA methylation marks could enable breeders to fix beneficial methylation patterns in crops over successive generations. These properties of DNA methylation, its impact on the phenotype and its heritability, could be used to support the accelerated breeding of improved crop varieties. Induced DNA methylation has the potential to complement the existing plant breeding process, supporting the introduction of desirable characteristics in crops within a single generation that persist in its progeny. Therefore, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the regulation of gene expression through DNA methylation and to develop methods for precisely modulating methylation patterns for crop improvement. Here we describe the currently available epigenetic editing tools and their advantages and limitations in the domain of crop breeding. Finally, we discuss the biological and legislative limitations currently restricting the development of epigenetic modification as a crop improvement tool.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1484
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


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