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Probing the evolutionary history of epigenetic mechanisms: what can we learn from marine diatoms

1 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Section, Institut de Biologie de l'École Normale Supérieure (IBENS), CNRS UMR8197 INSERM U1024, 46 rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris, France;
2 State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China;
3 Institut Curie, PSL Research University, Centre de Recherche, Laboratoire de Spectrométrie de Masse Protéomique, 26 rue d'Ulm 75248 Cedex 05 Paris, France

Special Issues: Evolution of epigenetic mechanisms

Recent progress made on epigenetic studies revealed the conservation of epigenetic features in deep diverse branching species including Stramenopiles, plants and animals. This suggests their fundamental role in shaping species genomes across different evolutionary time scales. Diatoms are a highly successful and diverse group of phytoplankton with a fossil record of about 190 million years ago. They are distantly related from other super-groups of Eukaryotes and have retained some of the epigenetic features found in mammals and plants suggesting their ancient origin. Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Thalassiosira pseudonana, pennate and centric diatoms, respectively, emerged as model species to address questions on the evolution of epigenetic phenomena such as what has been lost, retained or has evolved in contemporary species. In the present work, we will discuss how the study of non-model or emerging model organisms, such as diatoms, helps understand the evolutionary history of epigenetic mechanisms with a particular focus on DNA methylation and histone modifications.
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