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Don't be scared of the genome's 5th base -- Explaining phenotypic variability and evolutionary dynamics through DNA methylation analysis
  • Joerg Tost
Joerg Tost
CEA-Institut de Biologie François Jacob, Université Paris-Saclay

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Epigenetic processes have taken center stage for the investigation of many biological processes and epigenetic modifications have shown to influence phenotype, morphology and behavioral traits such as stress resistance by affecting gene regulation and expression without altering the underlying genomic sequence. The multiple molecular layers of epigenetics synergistically construct the cell type-specific gene regulatory networks. DNA methylation occurring on the 5’ carbon of cytosines in different genomic sequence contexts is the most studied epigenetic modification. DNA methylation has been shown to provide a molecular record of a large variety of environmental factors, which might be persistent through the entire lifetime of an organisms and even be passed onto the offspring. Animals might display altered phenotypes mediated by epigenetic modifications depending on the developmental stage or the environmental conditions as well as during evolution. Therefore, the analysis of DNA methylation patterns might allow deciphering previous exposures, explaining ecologically relevant phenotypic diversity and predicting evolutionary trajectories enabling accelerated adaption to changing environmental conditions. Despite the explanatory potential of DNA methylation. studies of DNA methylation are still scarce in the field of ecology. This might be at least partly due to the complexity of DNA methylation analysis and the interpretation of the acquired data. In the current issue of Molecular Ecology Resources, Laine and colleagues (2023) provide a detailed summary of guidelines and valuable recommendations for researchers in the field of ecology to avoid common pitfalls and perform interpretable genome-wide DNA methylation analyses.
16 May 2023Submitted to Molecular Ecology Resources
17 May 2023Assigned to Editor
17 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
17 May 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
23 May 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
02 Jun 2023Editorial Decision: Accept