High-throughput sequencing of small RNA transcriptome reveals salt stress regulated microRNAs in sugarcane

Mariana Carnavale Bottino, Sabrina Rosario, Clicia Grativol, Flávia Thiebaut, Cristian Antonio Rojas, Laurent Farrineli, Adriana Silva Hemerly, Paulo Cavalcanti Gomes Ferreira
PloS One 2013, 8 (3): e59423
Salt stress is a primary cause of crop losses worldwide, and it has been the subject of intense investigation to unravel the complex mechanisms responsible for salinity tolerance. MicroRNA is implicated in many developmental processes and in responses to various abiotic stresses, playing pivotal roles in plant adaptation. Deep sequencing technology was chosen to determine the small RNA transcriptome of Saccharum sp cultivars grown on saline conditions. We constructed four small RNAs libraries prepared from plants grown on hydroponic culture submitted to 170 mM NaCl and harvested after 1 h, 6 hs and 24 hs. Each library was sequenced individually and together generated more than 50 million short reads. Ninety-eight conserved miRNAs and 33 miRNAs* were identified by bioinformatics. Several of the microRNA showed considerable differences of expression in the four libraries. To confirm the results of the bioinformatics-based analysis, we studied the expression of the 10 most abundant miRNAs and 1 miRNA* in plants treated with 170 mM NaCl and in plants with a severe treatment of 340 mM NaCl. The results showed that 11 selected miRNAs had higher expression in samples treated with severe salt treatment compared to the mild one. We also investigated the regulation of the same miRNAs in shoots of four cultivars grown on soil treated with 170 mM NaCl. Cultivars could be grouped according to miRNAs expression in response to salt stress. Furthermore, the majority of the predicted target genes had an inverse regulation with their correspondent microRNAs. The targets encode a wide range of proteins, including transcription factors, metabolic enzymes and genes involved in hormone signaling, probably assisting the plants to develop tolerance to salinity. Our work provides insights into the regulatory functions of miRNAs, thereby expanding our knowledge on potential salt-stressed regulated genes.

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