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

Achal Rastogi Xin Lin Bérangère Lombard Damarys Loew Leïla Tirichine

*Corresponding author: Leïla Tirichine tirichin@biologie.ens.fr

Genetics2015,3,173doi:10.3934/genet.2015.3.173

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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