Nicolas BOUCHÉ Senior Scientist

Epigenetic Natural Variation

Research project

Epialleles are variants based on epigenetic marks transmitted between generations. In plants, they represent a source of phenotypic variation that is still poorly described and exploited. Some selected agronomic traits are conditioned by heritable epimutations stabilised during domestication, and it is possible that breeders have historically selected traits subject to epigenetic variation.

Climate change is causing new stresses to which crops are now subject; in this context, finding new sources to improve the resilience of cultivated plants to water stress, heat stress and pests has never been so crucial. All possibilities must be explored, and epigenetics is clearly one of them, since the discoveries made in this field in species of agronomic interest offer real prospects for innovation in plant improvement.

In tomato and Arabidopsis, we are trying to associate phenotypes with modifications in the epigenome, and to assess their heritability and stability. Epigenomic analysis tools, and bioinformatics in particular, offer the possibility of capturing these variations so that they can be incorporated into future breeding programmes. Several countries (USA, China) are investing in this field. To maintain their position and remain competitive, it is essential that France and Europe develop similar strategies and research.
Nicolas Bouché


Epigenetic Natural Variation

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Tél : 0130833314