Inheritance of epigenome variants across generations and its implications on the emergence of phenotypic novelties during evolution

Jemma L. Geoghegan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Epigenetic modifications to chromatin are continuously "re-edited" based on environmental information. This process causes subsequent generations to inherit epigenomes that vary in differing degrees from those of their parents. Inheritance of epigenome variants across generations then, may lead to the emergence of phenotypic novelties and, ultimately, to speciation. The re-editing of epigenetic marks proceeds at rates that vary considerably, even amongst genetically identical individuals. This lack of stable heritability has led some researchers to downplay epigenetics' broader evolutionary significance. Nonetheless, the varying degrees of epigenome re-editing during development may lead to epiallelic variants - an array of epigenetic states for a single allele. Multiple epiallelic variants, then, may explain the widespread phenotypic variation observed in nature. This chapter discusses the inheritance of epigenetic modifications and how they may be important for generating phenotypic novelties.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransgenerational epigenetics
EditorsTrygve Tollefsbol
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherElsevier
Pages187-194
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780124059221, 0124059228
ISBN (Print)9780124059443
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Epiallele
  • Epigenetics
  • Germline
  • Inheritance
  • Phenotype
  • Stability
  • Variation

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