Epigenetic variation

Epigenetic modifications are vital for allowing long-lived and/or complex organisms to adapt to challenging environments. IGA has recently specialized in whole-genome mapping of DNA methylation, chromatin modifications and chromatin interactions. There is considerable excitement for the impact of epigenetics on agriculture, in particular in perennial crops.

EPIGEN is a flagship project funded by the National Research Council of Italy. The goal of EPIGEN is to understand how epigenetic mechanisms regulate biological processes, determine phenotypic variation and contribute to the onset and the progression of human diseases (see an EPIGEN short movie for a brief description of what epigenetic is about).

The EPIGEN team is highly multidisciplinary and involves 70 Italian research groups. Under investigation are a variety of organisms ranging from animals (humans, mouse) to plants (maize, grapevine, Arabidopsis). In humans, topics include epigenetic control of cellular identity and human cancer, and epigenetic drugs for leukemia and muscular dystrophy. In plants, IGA is studying the role of transposons as mediators of epigenetic variation in both grape and maize.

IGA is the centralized EPIGEN platform for Next Generation Sequencing, serving the whole partnership. Two Illumina Hi-Seq 2500 sequencers are dedicated to the project partners. Centralization of NGS allows reduction of costs, optimization of equipment use and efficient transfer of the data to the project’s bioinformatics platform. Technologies accessible through the EPIGEN NGS Service platform include Whole Genome Shotgun Bisulfite Sequencing, Bisulfite conversion followed by capture and sequencing, MeDIP, ChIP-sequencing, RNA sequencing, and small RNA sequencing.

EPIGEN – Flagship Project Epigenomics

Funded by the National Research Council Italy