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Department of Plant Sciences

Silence! - controlling recombination hotspots in plant genomes

The Henderson laboratory have published a new paper investigating epigenetic control of recombination hotspots.

Recombination is a major tool for crop breeding and improvement, which creates new combination of genetic diversity. Recombination is concentrated in narrow hotspots along the chromosomes and therefore it would be useful for breeders to control these hotspots. 

In this study the group used a technique to transfer an epigenetic mark, DNA methylation, onto hotspot sequences. They show that this mark is sufficient to silence recombination at the hotspots, demonstrating how information beyond the DNA sequence itself is important for recombination activity.

In the future similar epigenetic modifications in crop genomes could be useful to help breeders obtain the strains we will need in order to increase agricultural yields.

  • Yelina NE, Lambing C, Hardcastle TJ, Zhao X, Santos B, Henderson IR. DNA methylation epigenetically silences crossover hot spots and controls chromosomal domains of meiotic recombination in Arabidopsis. Genes & Dev. 2015. 29: 2183-2202.  doi: 10.1101/gad.270876.115