Differential gene expression related to an epigenetic memory affecting climatic adaptation in Norway spruce
In Norway spruce, the temperature during zygotic embryogenesis appears to adjust an adaptive epigenetic memory in the progeny that may regulate bud phenology and cold acclimation. Conditions colder than normal advance the timing whilst temperatures above normal delay the onset of these processes and altered performance is long lasting in progeny with identical genetic background. As a step toward unraveling the molecular mechanism behind an epigenetic memory, transcriptional analysis was performed on seedlings from seeds of six full-sib families produced at different embryogenesis temperature–cold (CE) vs warm (WE) under long and short day conditions. We prepared two suppressive subtracted cDNA libraries, forward and reverse, representing genes predominantly expressed in plants from seeds obtained after CE and WE embryogenesis following short day treatment (inducing bud set). Sequencing and annotation revealed considerable differences in the transcriptome of WE versus CE originated plants. By using qRT-PCR we studied the expression patterns of 32 selected candidate genes chosen from subtractive cDNA libraries analysis and nine siRNA pathways genes by a direct candidate approach. Eight genes, two transposons related genes, three with no match to Databases sequences and three genes from siRNA pathways (PaDCL1 and 2, PaSGS3) showed differential expression in progeny from CE and WE correlated with the family phenotypic differences. These findings may contribute to our understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying adaptive changes acquired during embryogenesis.