Divergent cytosine DNA methylation patterns in single-cell, soybean root hairs

New Phytol. 2017 Apr;214(2):808-819. doi: 10.1111/nph.14421. Epub 2017 Jan 20.


Chromatin modifications, such as cytosine methylation of DNA, play a significant role in mediating gene expression in plants, which affects growth, development, and cell differentiation. As root hairs are single-cell extensions of the root epidermis and the primary organs for water uptake and nutrients, we sought to use root hairs as a single-cell model system to measure the impact of environmental stress. We measured changes in cytosine DNA methylation in single-cell root hairs as compared with multicellular stripped roots, as well as in response to heat stress. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in each methylation context showed very distinct methylation patterns between cell types and in response to heat stress. Intriguingly, at normal temperature, root hairs were more hypermethylated than were stripped roots. However, in response to heat stress, both root hairs and stripped roots showed hypomethylation in each context, especially in the CHH context. Moreover, expression analysis of mRNA from similar tissues and treatments identified some associations between DMRs, genes and transposons. Taken together, the data indicate that changes in DNA methylation are directly or indirectly associated with expression of genes and transposons within the context of either specific tissues/cells or stress (heat).

Keywords: DNA methylation; bisulfite sequencing; differentially methylated regions (DMRs); epigenetics; heat stress; root hairs; single cell; stripped roots.

MeSH terms

  • Cytosine / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Heat-Shock Response / genetics
  • Plant Roots / cytology*
  • Plant Roots / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Soybeans / cytology*
  • Soybeans / genetics*
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Cytosine

Associated data

  • GENBANK/GSE90142