Review: Spontaneous epimutations in plants (New Phytol)

Spontaneous epimutations are stochastic and heritable changes of DNA methylation in genomes. In this review, Johannes and Schmitz discuss the molecular origins of spontaneous epimutations in plants as well as their functional and phenotypical consequences. The authors highlight that spontaneous epimutations are frequent in plant genomes and are likely induced by events interfering with the activity of enzymes involved in establishing or maintaining DNA methylation. Evidences for heritable phenotypic changes induced by spontaneous epimutations remain limited but are linked to changes in expression of the surrounding genes. Further characterization of the epimutational processes is the next challenge to understand in which extent epimutations shaped plant phenotypes over evolutionary times. (Summary by Matthias Benoit). New Phytologist  10.1111/nph.15434