On line Training School
Plant Epigenetics:
Basics, Applications and Methodologies

28th-30th June 2021

Modality: on-line using Zoom platform

Attendants: Mostly directed for Bachelor, Master Students, PhD students, post-docs and researchers involved in fields in plant sciences and willing to start working on plant epigenetics.

Contacts for registration: please send an email to dr. Michal Lieberman Lazarovich – michall@volcani.agri.gov.il

Plant epigenetics is a fascinating research field aiming at investigating all kinds of modification of chromatin and DNA not related to sequence variation. The capacity of the hereditary material to change its chemical and spatial structure in response to environmental changes is an extraordinary means for all living organisms to adapt to climate change. This power becomes higher when these changes can be hereditary transmitted. This phenomenon is known as “plant stress memory” and consists in the enhancement of their responses to abiotic and biotic stresses occurring in a consequent way.

The expression “the Chromatin will never forget” as indicated in a recent Nature plants article (6: 1396–1397; 2020) means that the hereditary material has various and still unknown mechanisms of “chemical flexibility” to memorize previous environmental circumstances and react in a prompt way when they occur again. Although plant epigenetics has many intriguing scientific questions, this field is still one of the under-investigated aspects of genetics due to the complexity of molecular mechanisms that require diverse and well-integrated approaches and methodologies.

This training school will provide an overview of the principal methodologies and approaches used to investigate all main categories of epigenetic mechanisms:

1) chromatin restructuring and histone post- translational modifications (PTMs)
2) DNA methylation changes
3) non-coding RNAs (i.e. RNA-directed DNA methylation).

International teachers will be invited to provide frontal and practical lessons for the explanation of basic concepts, transfer this knowledge in the breeding sector and provide tools for hands-on data analysis. These lessons will deal with any kind of methodological approaches (targeted, “untargeted”, multi-omics, eventually integrated with genetic, transcript, protein, metabolites analysis). The training schools will last 3 days (each composed by a half-daytime) with 3-4 oral presentations during the morning of each day.

In the first part frontal lessons will be held on basic aspects for the understanding of the molecular epigenetic mechanisms:

- Chromatin modifications, reshuffling and restructuring
- DNA methylations
- Non-coding RNAs

The second part will deal with applied subjects, unresolved questions and frontiers such as the role of these mechanisms in plant stress responses, plant adaptation to climate change and crop breeding. There will be four presentations dealing with

- Plant adaptation mechanisms to climate change
- Transgenerational memory in plant stress biology
- Transfer of epigenetic knowledge in crop molecular breeding
- New frontiers in plant/crop epigenetics

The third part will deal with the description and explanation of the most updated methodology usable in lab and in silico analysis for plant epigenetics/epigenomics:

- DNA methylation analysis (bisulfite conversion, high resolution melting analysis, methylated DNA immunoprecipitation)
- Chromatin accessibility, conformation and analysis assays (digital dnase and dnase seq, chromosome conformation capture (3C)) - In silico bioinformatic pipelines for analysis of DNA methylation, chromatin and RNA, gene-ontologies and pathway analysis

see full program