Plant DNA methylation is one of the frequent epigenetic variations induced by tissue culture. Global DNA methylation was evaluated in lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) wild clone QB9C and cultivar Fundy propagated by conventional softwood cutting (SC) and tissue culture (TC) using the methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP) technique. In all, 106 and 107 DNA fragments were amplified using 16 selective primer combinations in SC plants of QB9C and Fundy, respectively. In micropropagated QB9C and Fundy plants, there were 105 and 109 amplified fragments, respectively. Overall, 25% of restriction sites were methylated at the cytosine nucleotide in QB9C plants propagated by SC compared with 19% in Fundy. In contrast, a total of 29% and 20% of restriction sites were methylated at cytosine in micropropagated QB9C and Fundy plants, respectively. Tissue culture plants demonstrated higher methylation events than SC plants in both genotypes. Previously, methylation polymorphism has been detected in TC plants but not in SC counterparts. Different patterns of DNA methylation and polymorphism in the plants propagated in in vitro and in vivo conditions suggest the possibility of involvement of these fragments in the processes of regulating plant growth and development under prevailing growth conditions.
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