Chromatin modifications carry regulatory epigenetic information across generations. Germlines are essential for understanding epigenetics because they mediate inheritance and undergo large-scale epigenetic reprogramming, which is crucial for germline function. Compared to animals, plant germlines differentiate much later and undergo distinct epigenetic changes despite highly conserved epigenetic pathways. These differences make plant germlines invaluable for revealing the core principles of epigenetics and sexual reproduction. Plant germlines are also of enormous practical significance because they produce the seeds that comprise most of our staple food.
My lab studies germline epigenetics in plants. Using male germlines as models, our main focus is to elucidate the mechanism and biological significance of germline epigenetic reprogramming. We are also interested in how somatic nurse cells communicate with the germline, how the environment affects fertility, and how environment-induced epigenetic memories are transmitted or erased in germlines. My talk will focus on our latest discoveries on the reprogramming of DNA methylation and a histone variant in the Arabidopsis germ cells.