Understanding the role of DNA methylation in successful biological invasions: a review
- 426 Downloads
Biological invasions provide a unique opportunity to investigate rapid adaptation and evolution as the introduced taxa adapt to biogeographic contexts or habitats in which they have not evolved. The capacity of populations to evolve is generally thought to be constrained by their existing heritable genetic variation, which is usually associated with variation in genomic DNA nucleotide sequences. However, there is increasing acceptance that a range of mechanisms—collectively termed ‘epigenetics’ can alter gene function and affect ecologically important traits. Epigenetic processes may mediate adaptive phenotypic plasticity and provide heritable variation on a finer timescale than DNA sequence-based mutations. This review focuses on DNA methylation, a well-studied epigenetic mechanism known to be associated with biological adaptation to environmental stress. We explore the role of DNA methylation in characterising the adaptive potential of invasive species. We also provide an overview of studies focused on DNA methylation and invasive species to date, and identify knowledge gaps and potential ways to advance understanding of epigenetic-based adaptation. A summary of the literature suggests that DNA methylation could play a key role in the success of invasive species. Introduced populations with reduced genetic diversity often display increased DNA methylation variation in comparison with native populations, which could create phenotypic diversity when it is most required. Recent data show that DNA methylation could contribute to adaptation through both phenotypic plasticity and heritable variation, particularly through clonal reproduction. From a methodological perspective, recent advances in molecular techniques provide an exciting opportunity to explore the functional relevance of DNA methylation to successful biological invasions. Gaining a greater understanding of the adaptive and evolutionary processes that contribute to invasion success is critical for preventing and managing the future introduction, establishment and spread of invasive species.
KeywordsInvasive species Epigenetics Adaptation Gene expression Plasticity
This work was supported by the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand (CAW1401). We would also like to thank three reviewers and the editor for their comments as they have greatly improved this review.
- Al Hassan M, Chaura J, López-Gresa MP, Borsai O, Daniso E, Donat-Torres MP, Mayoral O, Vicente O, Boscaiu M (2016) Native-invasive plants vs. halophytes in Mediterranean salt marshes: stress tolerance mechanisms in two related species. Front Plant Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2016.00473 PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Asselman J, De Coninck DIM, Vandegehuchte MB, Jansen M, Decaestecker E, De Meester L, Vanden Bussche J, Vanhaecke L, Janssen CR, De Schamphelaere KAC (2015) Global cytosine methylation in Daphnia magna depends on genotype, environment, and their interaction. Environ Toxicol Chem 34:1056–1061PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Baker HG (1965) Characteristics and modes of origin of weeds. In: Stebbins G (ed) The genetics of colonizing species. Academic Press, New York, pp 147–168Google Scholar
- Dixon GB, Bay LK, Matz MV (2014) Bimodal signatures of germline methylation are linked with gene expression plasticity in the coral Acropora millepora. BMC Genom 15:1109Google Scholar
- Gao L, Geng Y, Li BO, Chen J, Yang JI (2010) Genome-wide DNA methylation alterations of Alternanthera philoxeroides in natural and manipulated habitats: implications for epigenetic regulation of rapid responses to environmental fluctuation and phenotypic variation. Plant, Cell Environ 33:1820–1827CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lenz M, da Gama BAP, Gerner NV, Gobin J, Gröner F, Harry A, Jenkins SR, Kraufvelin P, Mummelthei C, Sareyka J (2011) Non-native marine invertebrates are more tolerant towards environmental stress than taxonomically related native species: results from a globally replicated study. Environ Res 111:943–952PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lowe S, Browne M, Boudjelas S, De Poorter M (2000) 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species: a selection from the global invasive species database. The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) a specialist group of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), GlandGoogle Scholar
- Schrey AW, Coon CAC, Grispo MT, Awad M, Imboma T, McCoy ED, Mushinsky HR, Richards CL, Martin LB (2012) Epigenetic variation may compensate for decreased genetic variation with introductions: a case study using house sparrows (Passer domesticus) on two continents. Genet Res Int 2012:979751PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Vitousek PM, Antonio CM, Loope LL, Westbrooks R (1996) Biological invasions as global environmental change. Am Sci 84:468–478Google Scholar