Received: 14 Oct 2020 Revised: 24 Mar 2021 Accepted: 19 Apr 2021 Published online: 01 Jul 2021
DNA methylation has been proposed to regulate plant stress resistance. However, the dynamic changes in DNA methylation in woody plants and their correlations with pathogenic responses are not fully understood. Here, we present single-base maps of the DNA methylomes of mulberry (Morus notabilis) leaves that were subjected to a mock treatment or inoculation with Botrytis cinerea. Compared with the former, the latter showed decreased mCG and mCHG levels and increased mCHH levels. DNA methylation inhibitors reduced resistance gene methylation levels and enhanced mulberry resistance, suggesting that the hypomethylation of resistance genes affects mulberry resistance to B. cinerea. Virus-induced gene silencing of MnMET1 enhanced the expression of mulberry-resistance genes, thereby increasing the plant’s resistance to B. cinerea. We also found that MITEs play a dominant role in controlling DNA methylation levels. MITEs appear to be the main sources of 24-nt siRNAs that regulate gene expression through the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway.