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Genome-wide DNA-(de)methylation is associated with Noninfectious Bud-failure exhibition in Almond (Prunus dulcis [Mill.] D.A.Webb).

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Noninfectious bud-failure (BF) remains a major threat to almond production in California, particularly with the recent rapid expansion of acreage and as more intensive cultural practices and modern cultivars are adopted. BF has been shown to be inherited in both vegetative and sexual progeny, with exhibition related to the age and propagation history of scion clonal sources. These characteristics suggest an epigenetic influence, such as the loss of juvenility mediated by DNA-(de)methylation. Various degrees of BF have been reported among cultivars as well as within sources of clonal propagation of the same cultivar. Genome-wide methylation profiles for different clones within almond genotypes were developed to examine their association with BF levels and association with the chronological time from initial propagation. The degree of BF exhibition was found to be associated with DNA-(de)methylation and clonal age, which suggests that epigenetic changes associated with ageing may be involved in the differential exhibition of BF within and among almond clones. Research is needed to investigate the potential of DNA-(de)methylation status as a predictor for BF as well as for effective strategies to improve clonal selection against age related deterioration. This is the first report of an epigenetic-related disorder threatening a major tree crop.

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