Excess Light Priming in Arabidopsis thaliana Genotypes with Altered DNA Methylomes

G3 (Bethesda). 2019 Nov 5;9(11):3611-3621. doi: 10.1534/g3.119.400659.


Plants must continuously react to the ever-fluctuating nature of their environment. Repeated exposure to stressful conditions can lead to priming, whereby prior encounters heighten a plant's ability to respond to future events. A clear example of priming is provided by the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), in which photosynthetic and photoprotective responses are enhanced following recurring light stress. While there are various post-translational mechanisms underpinning photoprotection, an unresolved question is the relative importance of transcriptional changes toward stress priming and, consequently, the potential contribution from DNA methylation - a heritable chemical modification of DNA capable of influencing gene expression. Here, we systematically investigate the potential molecular underpinnings of physiological priming against recurring excess-light (EL), specifically DNA methylation and transcriptional regulation: the latter having not been examined with respect to EL priming. The capacity for physiological priming of photosynthetic and photoprotective parameters following a recurring EL treatment was not impaired in Arabidopsis mutants with perturbed establishment, maintenance, or removal of DNA methylation. Importantly, no differences in development or basal photoprotective capacity were identified in the mutants that may confound the above result. Little evidence for a causal transcriptional component of physiological priming was identified; in fact, most alterations in primed plants presented as a transcriptional 'dampening' in response to an additional EL exposure, likely a consequence of physiological priming. However, a set of transcripts uniquely regulated in primed plants provide preliminary evidence for a novel transcriptional component of recurring EL priming, independent of physiological changes. Thus, we propose that physiological priming of recurring EL in Arabidopsis occurs independently of DNA methylation; and that the majority of the associated transcriptional alterations are a consequence, not cause, of this physiological priming.

Keywords: DNA methylation; gene expression; photoprotection; priming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genotype
  • Light*
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins