Epigenetic variations are a possible source of heritable phenotypic variation. In this study I focus on phenotypic alterations seen in epigenetic Recombinant Inbred Lines (epiRILs) of Arabidopsis thaliana. These epiRILs allow me to study the effects differentially methylated regions (DMRs) have on phenotypic variance. In a study performed in 2014 by Cortijo et al., they found that DMR’s affect flowering time and root length when grown under greenhouse conditions. In this study, I replicated the Cortijo et al. (2014) study, with some changes, to see whether the same significant eQTL regions are found. I found that, some of the eQTLs that were found in the Cortijo et al. (2014) study overlapped with those in this study. While there were some discrepancies, this could be due to insufficient power to detect the eQTL regions that were missed, as well as differences in the experimental conditions between my study and Cortijo et al.(2014), the fact that I found any eQTLs at all suggests that the epigenotypes of the epiRILs are largely the same as when they were constructed. Otherwise, I would not have found any significant eQTL regions at all. Overall, this work adds weight to the observation that methylation changes can be heritable and stable across generations, and that these changes can alter phenotypes -- all of the ingredients needed for evolution -- independent of any DNA sequence changes.

Date of publication

Summer 5-23-2024

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Joshua Banta, Matthew Greenwold, and Katrin Kellner


Masters in Biology