During transgenic plant production, tissue culture often carries epigenetic, and genetic changes that underlie somaclonal variations, leading to unpredictable phenotypes. Additionally, specific treatments for rice (Oryza sativa) transformation processes may individually or jointly contribute to somaclonal variations, but their specific impacts on rice epigenomes toward transcriptional variations remain unknown. Here, the impact of individual transformation treatments on genome-wide DNA methylation and the transcriptome were examined. In addition to activating stress-responsive genes, individual transformation components targeted different gene expression modules that were enriched in specific functional categories. The transformation treatments strongly impacted DNA methylation and expression; 75% were independent of tissue culture. Furthermore, our genome-wide analysis showed that the transformation treatments consistently resulted in global hypo-CHH methylation enriched at promoters highly associated with downregulation, particularly when the promoters were colocalized with miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements. Our results clearly highlight the specificity of impacts triggered by individual transformation treatments during rice transformation with the potential association between DNA methylation and gene expression. These changes in gene expression and DNA methylation resulting from rice transformation treatments explain a significant portion of somaclonal variations, that is, way beyond the tissue culture effect.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of American Society of Plant Biologists.