This study evaluated changes in DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana plants grown from seeds implanted with low-energy N+ and Ar+ ions. Methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) testing revealed altered DNA methylation patterns after ion implantation at doses of 1 × 1014 to 1 × 1016 ions/cm2. Comparison of the MSAP electrophoretic profiles revealed nine types of polymorphisms in ion-implanted seedlings relative to control seedlings, among which four represented methylation events, three represented demethylation events, and the methylation status of two was uncertain. The diversity of plant DNA methylation was increased by low-energy ion implantation. At the same time, total genomic DNA methylation levels at CCGG sites were unchanged by ion implantation. Moreover, a comparison of polymorphisms seen in N+ ion-implanted, Ar+ ion-implanted, and control DNA demonstrated that the species of incident ion influenced the resulting DNA methylation pattern. Sequencing of eight isolated fragments that showed different changing patterns in implanted plants allowed their mapping onto variable regions on one or more of the five Arabidopsis chromosomes; these segments included protein-coding genes, transposon and repeat DNA sequence. A further sodium bisulfite sequencing of three fragments also displayed alterations in methylation among either different types or doses of incident ions. Possible causes for the changes in methylation are discussed.

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