Epigenetic Flexibility Underlies Somaclonal Sex Conversions in Hexaploid Persimmon

Kanae Masuda, Takashi Akagi, Tomoya Esumi, Ryutaro Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Epigenetic regulation adds a flexible layer to genetic variations, potentially enabling long-term, but reversible, changes to a trait, while maintaining genetic information. In the hexaploid Oriental persimmon (Diospyros kaki), genetically monoecious cultivars bearing male flowers require the Y-encoded small RNA (smRNA) gene, OGI. This gene represses the expression of its autosomal counterpart gene, MeGI, as part of the canonical male production system. However, a D. kaki cultivar, Saijo, which lacks the OGI gene and originally bears only female flowers, occasionally produces somaclonal mutant male and revertant female (RF) branches. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms underlying these somaclonal sex conversions in persimmon. Specifically, we aimed to unravel how a genetically female tree without the OGI gene can produce male flowers and RF flowers. Applying multi-omics approaches, we revealed that this noncanonical male production system is basically consistent with the canonical system, in which the accumulation of smRNA targeting MeGI and the considerable DNA methylation of MeGI are involved. The epigenetic status of MeGI on CGN and CHG was synchronized to the genome-wide methylation patterns, both in transition to and from the male production system. These results suggest that the somaclonal sex conversions in persimmon are driven by the genome-wide epigenetic regulatory activities. Moreover, flexibility in the epigenetic layers of long-lived plant species (e.g. trees) is important for overcoming genetic robustness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-402
Number of pages10
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 28 2019


  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetic variation
  • Multi-omics
  • Sex determination
  • Somaclonal mutation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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