Agronomy (May 2020)

Epigenetic Variation at a Genomic Locus Affecting Biomass Accumulation under Low Nitrogen in <i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i>

  • Markus Kuhlmann,
  • Rhonda C. Meyer,
  • Zhongtao Jia,
  • Doreen Klose,
  • Lisa-Marie Krieg,
  • Nicolaus von Wirén,
  • Thomas Altmann

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 5
p. 636


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Nitrogen (N) is a macronutrient determining crop yield. The application of N fertilisers can substantially increase the yield, but excess use also causes the nitrate pollution of water resources and increases production costs. Increasing N use efficiency (NUE) in crop plants is an important step to implement low-input agricultural systems. We used Arabidopsis thaliana as model system to investigate the natural genetic diversity in traits related to NUE. Natural variation was used to study adaptive growth patterns and changes in gene expression associated with limited nitrate availability. A genome-wide association study revealed an association of eight SNP markers on Chromosome 1 with shoot growth under limited N. The identified linkage disequilibrium (LD) interval includes the DNA sequences of three cysteine/histidine-rich C1 domain proteins in tandem orientation. These genes differ in promoter structure, methylation pattern and expression level among accessions, correlating with growth performance under N deficiency. Our results suggest the involvement of epigenetic regulation in the expression of NUE-related traits.