DNA methylation mediates overgrazing-induced clonal transgenerational plasticity

Jingjing Yin, Weibo Ren*, ELLEN FRY, Siyuan Sun, Huijie Han, Fenghui Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Overgrazing generally induces dwarfism in grassland plants, and these phenotypic traits could be transmitted to clonal offspring even when overgrazing is excluded. However, the dwarfism-transmitted mechanism remains largely unknown, despite generally thought to be enabled by epigenetic modification. To clarify the potential role of DNA methylation on clonal transgenerational effects, we conducted a greenhouse experiment with Leymus chinensis clonal offspring from different cattle/sheep overgrazing histories via the demethylating agent 5-azacytidine. The results showed that clonal offspring from overgrazed (by cattle or sheep) parents were dwarfed and the auxin content of leaves significantly decreased compared to offspring from no-grazed parents'. The 5-azaC application generally increased the auxin content and promoted the growth of overgrazed offspring while inhibited no-grazed offspring growth. Meanwhile, there were similar trends in the expression level of genes related to auxin-responsive target genes (ARF7, ARF19), and signal transduction gene (AZF2). These results suggest that DNA methylation leads to overgrazing-induced plant transgenerational dwarfism via inhibiting auxin signal pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date5 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2023


  • overgrazing
  • plant dwarfism
  • DNA methylation
  • auxin pathway
  • Leymus chinensis


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