As a subgroup of horticultural crops, vegetable food is a kind of indispensable energy source for human beings, providing necessary nutritional components including vitamins, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and active substances such as carotenoids and flavonoids. The developmental process of vegetable crops is not only regulated by environmental stimulations, but also manipulated by both genetic and epigenetic modifications. Epigenetic modifications are composed by several regulatory mechanisms, including DNA methylation, histone modification, chromatin remodeling, and non-coding RNAs. Among these modifications, DNA methylation functions in multiple biological pathways ranging from fundamental development to environmental stimulations by mediating transcriptomic alterations, resulting in the activation or silencing of target genes. In recent years, intensive studies have revealed that DNA methylation is essential to fruit development and ripening, indicating that the epigenome of fruit crops could be dynamically modified according to the specific requirements in the commercial production. Firstly, this review will present the mechanisms of DNA methylation, and update the understanding on active DNA demethylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Secondly, this review will summarize the recent progress on the function of DNA methylation in regulating fruit ripening. Moreover, the possible functions of DNA methylation on controlling the expansion of edible organs, senescence of leafy vegetables, and anthocyanin pigmentation in several important vegetable crops will be discussed. Finally, this review will highlight the intractable issues that need to be resolved in the application of epigenome in vegetable crops, and provide perspectives for the potential challenges in the further studies.

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