Populations of Antarctic hairgrass Deschampsia antarctica Desv. from King George Island exhibit variation in many traits. The reason for that is not evident and could be addressed to variable environmental conditions. Obviously, phenotypic variation could be due to stable or temporal changes in expression pattern as the result of adaptation. Stable changes could be due to mutations or site DNA methylation variation that modified expression pattern. Recently, metAFLP approach was proposed to study such effects. A variant of methylation sensitive AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism), based on the isoschizomeric combinations Acc65 I/ Mse I and Kpn I/ Mse I was applied to analyze the sequence and site DNA methylation differences between two D. antarctica populations exhibiting morphological dissimilarities. Both DNA sequence mutations and site methylation pattern alternations were detected among and within analyzed populations. It is assumed that such changes might have originated as the response to environmental conditions that induced site methylation alternations leading to phenotypic variation of D. antarctica populations from South Shetland Islands.
Poa annua L. is the only non−native vascular plant that was successfully established in the maritime Antarctic. This project aimed to determine the amount of genetic and epigenetic variation within and between two populations of P. annua , one from South Shetland Is. (Antarctic) and the other one from Central Europe. We applied two AFLP marker systems, using endonucleases that recognised the same restriction site but differed in their sensitivity towards methylation. The Antarctic population differed from the Polish one both at the genetic and epigenetic levels. Genetic variability in the Antarctic population was lower than in the Polish one. Some loci in the Antarctic population showed signs of selection. The difference between Polish and Antarctic populations might be due to a weak bottleneck effect followed by population expansion. Using only epigenetic markers, the Ant − arctic population exhibited increased variation level compared to the Polish one. These may have resulted from plastic responses to environmental factors and could be associated with survival in extreme conditions.