News & AnalysisEuropean Society for Evolutionary Biology Meeting

Epigenetics Linked to Inbreeding Depression

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Science  16 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6049, pp. 1563
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6049.1563

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Recessive genes with harmful effects, whose negative influences are normally masked by a dominant copy of a gene, are more likely to pair up in offspring of more genetically similar parents, a phenomenon known as inbreeding depression. But evolutionary ecologists have reversed inbreeding depression in Scabiosa columbaria, a long-stemmed plant common in European gardens, by short-circuiting DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mechanism, in seeds, they reported at the meeting.