DNA methylation plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes. The extent and patterns of DNA methylation were assessed in the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) mother plants and their offshoots using the methylation sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) technique. Three types of bands were generated using 12 pairs of primers. Type I bands were present in both EcoR I + Hpa II and EcoR I + Msp I lanes; type II bands were present in EcoR I + Hpa II lanes, but not in EcoR I + Msp I lanes; and type III bands were present in EcoR I + Msp I lanes, but not in EcoR I + Hpa II lanes. The total numbers of these three types of bands were 782, 55, and 34. Among these three types of bands, the polymorphic bands were 34, 10, and 0, respectively. The distribution of polymorphic bands among mother-plants and offshoots could suggest the methylation variation occurred to the mother plants and offshoots. The methylation variation during offshoot growth of date palm was characterized as a process involving mainly of demethylation. Hypomethylation of DNA in offshoots compared with mother plants reflects the marked expression of this molecular feature, which may related to gene expression during development of offshoots. The methylation or demethylation status of specific loci in the mother plants and their offshoots might not relate their lineage but occurred randomly.
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