Offspring phenotypes may be altered by environments that their parents lived in.These environmentally-induced trans-generational effects may be mediated by epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. Little is known about the role of such epigenetic effects in evolution; however, it is expected to facilitate evolution. To expand geographic range, it is thought that most species would have to adapt via evolution by natural selection to stressful environments beyond range boundaries. Contrary to expectations, in a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Alsdurf et al. show that DNA methylation in an upland mustard species may underlie a drought-induced trans-generational tradeoff that may constrain the process of adaptation to stressful environments at lower elevations.
Jacob Alsdurf, Cynthia Anderson, David H. Siemens, 2015, 'Epigenetics of drought-induced trans-generational plasticity: consequences for range limit development', AoB Plants, vol. 8, p. plv146 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv146