Review: Exploiting induced and natural epigenetic variation for crop improvement

Variation provides the raw material for selection and improvement. Springer and Schmitz describe how natural and induced epigenetic variation supplements genetic variation. This review starts with a description of epigenetics, epigenomics (the genome-wide distribution of epigenetic information), and the origin and maintenance of epigenetic marks. Epigenetic variation can arise spontaneously but also from chemical treatments that affect DNA methylation, wide-crosses (between distant relatives), and tissue culture.  The authors highlight the potential of targeted epigenetic engineering as a new approach for crop improvement. Nat. Rev. Genet. 10.1038/nrg.2017.45