Differential DNA methylation and transcription profiles in date palm roots exposed to salinity

Ibtisam Al-Harrasi, Rashid Al-Yahyai, Mahmoud W. Yaish*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


As a salt-adaptive plant, the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) requires a suitable mechanism to adapt to the stress of saline soils. There is growing evidence that DNA methylation plays an important role in regulating gene expression in response to abiotic stresses, including salinity. Thus, the present study sought to examine the differential methylation status that occurs in the date palm genome when plants are exposed to salinity, and to identify salinity responsive genes that are regulated by DNA methylation. To achieve these, whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) was employed and mRNA was sequenced from salinity-treated and untreated roots. The WGBS analysis included 324,987,795 and 317,056,091 total reads of the control and the salinity-treated samples, respectively. The analysis covered about 81% of the total genomic DNA with about 40% of mapping efficiency of the sequenced reads and an average read depth of 17-fold coverage per DNA strand, and with a bisulfite conversion rate of around 99%. The level of methylation within the differentially methylated regions (DMRs) was significantly (p < 0.05, FDR 0.05) increased in response to salinity specifically at the mCHG and mCHH sequence contexts. Consistently, the mass spectrometry and the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) showed that there was a significant (p < 0.05) increase in the global DNA methylation in response to salinity. mRNA sequencing revealed the presence of 6,405 differentially regulated genes with a significant value (p < 0.001, FDR 0.05) in response to salinity. Integration of high-resolution methylome and transcriptome analyses revealed a negative correlation between mCG methylation located within the promoters and the gene expression, while a positive correlation was noticed between mCHG/ mCHH methylation rations and gene expression specifically when plants grew under control conditions. Therefore, the methylome and transcriptome relationships vary based on the methylated sequence context, the methylated region within the gene, the protein-coding ability of the gene, and the salinity treatment. These results provide insights into interplay among DNA methylation and gene expression, and highlight the effect of salinity on the nature of this relationship, which may involve other genetic and epigenetic players under salt stress conditions. The results obtained from this project provide the first draft map of the differential methylome and transcriptome of date palm when exposed to an abiotic stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0191492
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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