Thesis: Dynamic methylation regulation in plants
The main aim of this thesis will be to explore plant epigenetics by focusing on the dynamic regulation of cytosine methylation.
Different approaches will be used to do so:
1. Comparing the methylomes of different cell-types in the plant meristems to study the maintenance of the genome integrity in plant stem cells;
2. Studying the methylome variation during an abiotic stress and the heritability of the provoked changes;
3. Inducing a change in the methylation state of a specific sequence and measuring the corresponding gene expression.
Several molecular techniques will be used during this project such as BS-MethylCseq, RNAseq and INTACT method among others, as well as bioinformatic data analysis and plant breeding techniques.
Why my research is important
Methylation can be inherited or created "de novo" in the new generation. But the mechanisms are not fully known yet and neither are their regulations, especially not at a single cell-type level. This project could unravel many processes involved in methylation maintenance and regulation.
In order to induce a change in the methylation state of a plant, a new technique will be engineered to methylate or demethylate a specific locus of the genome. It will finally be possible to assure the relationship between gene expression level and the methylation state of the sequence.
Moreover, such a method could be used to engineer lines with induced over-expression or down-regulation of any gene of interest specifically and only in a specific cell-type and/or environmental conditions.