Contribution de l’épigénétique dans les Dauermodifikations et l’évolution adaptative chez le parasite humain Schistosoma mansoni et le corail tropical Pocillopora damicornis

Abstract : The origin of phenotypic variability has been much debated since the establishment of Lamarck’s and Darwins theories of evolution. It is commonly accepted in the contemporary vision of adaptive evolution that the only source of heritable phenotypic variability is genetic. Here, phenotypes are the product of the genotypes under the influence of the environment. Random DNA mutations generate novel phenotypes, which are then subjected to natural selection. Traditionally, it is considered that acquired characters are not heritable and have no impact on evolution. Yet almost a century ago, a German biologist named Victor Jollos revealed that some phenotypes could be produced in particular environmental conditions and could persist for a few generations in the absence of the original stimulus, before disappearing gradually. He named this phenomenon Dauermodifikations, literally “long term changes”. His conclusions were going against evolutionary conceptions of his time, and were considered experimental artefacts. However, we are now aware that, in addition to the genetic code, there is also another heritable, and yet flexible, mechanism responding to environmental fluctuations: the epigenetic code. In this thesis, I attempted to characterize the role of epigenetic mechanisms, and more specifically modifications of the chromatin structure, in two organisms with Dauermodifikations: the tropical coral Pocillopora damicornis and the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni. The two main objectives of this study were (I) to determine how the environment influences the chromatin structure (in a targeted or random fashion) and (II) to what extent these changes are heritable (through mitosis or meiosis).My results provide a better knowledge of the epigenome of the two organisms we studied. We have described the chromatin structure of S. mansoni through the distribution of six histones modifications, in two developmental stages. Furthermore, we have shown three types of changes in chromatin structure of S. mansoni: (I) targeted in response to environmental changes, (II) genotype associated, and (III) random. Only types II and III are inherited to the next developmental stages of the parasite. Our work on P. damicornis delivers evidence for an unusual chromatin structure in this organism and to provide the first description of a coral methylome
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David Roquis. Contribution de l’épigénétique dans les Dauermodifikations et l’évolution adaptative chez le parasite humain Schistosoma mansoni et le corail tropical Pocillopora damicornis. Génétique. Université de Perpignan, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015PERP0037⟩. ⟨tel-01265805⟩

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