Shohei TAKUNO Assistant Professor

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Evolutionary Genetics and Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression that does not involve changes of DNA sequences. Organisms are composed of multiple tissues and organs that are an ensemble of similar cell types. All cells in the same individual contain the same genome, but the patterns of gene expression vary among tissues and organs. Epigenetic modifications including cytosine DNA methylation and histone modifications are considered one of the important mechanisms for altering the gene expression patterns. These expression changes play significant roles in developmental programs and stress responses.

Recent advances in sequencing technologies have revealed the genome-wide patterns of such epigenetic modification, so called “epigenomes”. Epigenetic modifications are not randomly distributed across genomes but are tightly associated with genomic features. As such, coding regions, promoter regions and repetitive regions exhibit different patterns of epigenetic modifications. These patterns of epigenomes are generally conserved across species.

Shohei Takuno is investigating the evolutionary processes of the epigenomes mainly in plant species. The ultimate goal of his research is to reveal the fundamental law of the evolution of epigenomes and to detect the evolutionary interplays between genomes and epigenomes.


Papers and publications

  1. S. Takuno, J. H. Ran & B. S. Gaut (2016).
    Evolutionary patterns of genic DNA methylation vary across Land Plants.
    Nature Plants 2, 15222.
  2. S. Takuno, P. Ralph, K. Swarts, R. J. Elshire, J. C. Glaubitz, E. S. Buckler, M. B. Hufford & J. Ross-Ibarra (2015).
    Independent molecular basis of convergent highland adaptation in maize.
    Genetics 200, 1297-1312.
  3. S. Takuno & B. S. Gaut (2013).
    Gene body methylation is conserved between plant orthologs and is of evolutionary consequence.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110, 1797-1802.
  4. D. M. Wills, C. Whipple, S. Takuno, L. E. Kursel, L. M. Shannon, J. Ross-Ibarra & J. F. Doebley (2013).
    From many, one: Genetic control of prolificacy during maize domestication.
    PLoS Genetics 9, e1003604.
  5. S. Takuno & B. S. Gaut (2012).
    Body-methylated genes in Arabidopsis thaliana are functionally important and evolve slowly.
    Molecular Biology and Evolution 29, 219-227.
  6. S. Takuno & H. Innan (2011).
    Selection fine-tunes the expression of microRNA target genes in Arabidopsis thaliana.
    Molecular Biology and Evolution 28, 2429-2434.