LHP1-mediated epigenetic buffering of subgenome diversity and defense responses confers genome plasticity and adaptability in allopolyploid wheat
Published:21 Mar.2024    Source:Nature Communications

Polyploidization is a major driver of genome diversification and environmental adaptation. However, the merger of different genomes may result in genomic conflicts, raising a major question regarding how genetic diversity is interpreted and regulated to enable environmental plasticity. By analyzing the genome-wide binding of 191 trans-factors in allopolyploid wheat, we identified like heterochromatin protein 1 (LHP1) as a master regulator of subgenome-diversified genes.

Transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses of LHP1 mutants reveal its role in buffering the expression of subgenome-diversified defense genes by controlling H3K27me3 homeostasis. Stripe rust infection releases latent subgenomic variations by eliminating H3K27me3-related repression. The simultaneous inactivation of LHP1 homoeologs by CRISPR–Cas9 confers robust stripe rust resistance in wheat seedlings.
The conditional repression of subgenome-diversified defenses ensures developmental plasticity to external changes, while also promoting neutral-to-non-neutral selection transitions and adaptive evolution. These findings establish an LHP1-mediated buffering system at the intersection of genotypes, environments, and phenotypes in polyploid wheat. Manipulating the epigenetic buffering capacity offers a tool to harness cryptic subgenomic variations for crop improvement.