Epigeneettisten muutosten ominaisuudet ja evolutiiviset vaikutukset (EPIMUT)


Rahoittajan antama koodi/diaarinumero: 321584

Päärahoittajan myöntämä tuki (€)

  • 438 874,00


Hankkeen aikataulu

Hankkeen aloituspäivämäärä: 01.09.2019

Hankkeen päättymispäivämäärä: 31.08.2024


Traditionally only genetic changes have been considered to be the raw material of evolution. However, it is now clear that epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, and small RNAs can be inherited at least to some extent. In recent years, evidence for epigenetic inheritance has accumulated in multiple systems. If something can be inherited, it can in principle have a role in evolution, as evolutionary theory does not require a specific mechanism for inheritance. However, spontaneous epigenetic changes have different properties than genetic mutations and thus epigenetic changes can cause different types of evolutionary dynamics compared to genetic mutations. My previous work has investigated the role of epigenetic mutations in adaptation using both theoretical models and experiments. I have shown that, provided some conditions are met, epigenetic mutations can cause two-phase evolutionary dynamics where epigenetic mutations are used first in adaptation, followed by genetic mutations that fix the same phenotype. Our experiments also indicate that DNA methylation changes participate in adaptation.

To move the field forward we need to have a better understanding of the properties of epigenetic changes. To address this issue I propose to perform two large experiments. In the first experiment, I will determine the rate and stability of spontaneous DNA methylation and histone modification changes in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa by using a mutation accumulation experiment and subsequently determining changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications by whole genome sequencing. We need more and better estimates of rates of epigenetic changes, and for histone modifications as well and not only just for DNA methylation. Moreover, estimates of the phenotypic effects that epigenetic changes have are extremely important in understanding the evolutionary consequence of epigenetic mutations. And the proposed experiment will give us an estimate of the phenotypic effects. In the second experiment, I will determine if transgenerational effects are present in Neurospora, for how many generations they are transmitted, and if they are due to epigenetic changes induced by the environment. Getting these estimates will allow parametrizing models with realistic values and allow determining how epigenetic changes influence evolutionary adaptation.

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Viimeisin päivitys 2021-17-03 klo 12:06