Differences by origin in methylome suggest eco-phenotypes in the kelp Saccharina latissima

Evol Appl. 2022 May 11;16(2):262-278. doi: 10.1111/eva.13382. eCollection 2023 Feb.


Most kelp species are of high ecological and economic importance worldwide, but are highly susceptible to rising ocean temperatures due to their sessile lifestyle. Due to interference with reproduction, development and growth, natural kelp forests have vanished in multiple regions after extreme summer heat waves. Furthermore, increasing temperatures are likely to decrease biomass production and, thus, reduce production security of farmed kelp. Epigenetic variation, and cytosine methylation as a heritable epigenetic trait, is a rapid means of acclimation and adaptation to environmental conditions, including temperature. While the first methylome of brown macroalgae has been recently described in the kelp Saccharina japonica, its functional relevance and contribution to environmental acclimation is currently unknown. The main objective of our study was to identify the importance of the methylome in the congener kelp species Saccharina latissima for temperature acclimation. Our study is the first to compare DNA methylation in kelp between wild populations of different latitudinal origin, and the first to investigate the effect of cultivation and rearing temperature on genome-wide cytosine methylation. Origin appears to determine many traits in kelp, but it is unknown to what extent the effects of thermal acclimation may be overruled by lab-related acclimation. Our results suggest that seaweed hatchery conditions have strong effects on the methylome and, thus, putatively on the epigenetically controlled characteristics of young kelp sporophytes. However, culture origin could best explain epigenetic differences in our samples suggesting that epigenetic mechanisms contribute to local adaptation of eco-phenotypes. Our study is a first step to understand whether DNA methylation marks (via their effect on gene regulation) may be used as biological regulators to enhance production security and kelp restoration success under rising temperatures, and highlights the importance to match hatchery conditions to origin.

PMID:36793679 | PMC:PMC9923482 | DOI:10.1111/eva.13382


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