MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a group of endogenous non-coding small RNAs that have critical regulatory functions in almost all known biological processes at the post-transcriptional level in a variety of organisms. The oriental fruit moth Grapholita molesta is one of the most serious pests in orchards worldwide and threatens the production of Rosacea fruits.

In a recent study by China Agricultural University, a de novo small RNA library constructed from mixed stages of Gmolesta was sequenced through Illumina sequencing platform and a total of 536 mature miRNAs consisting of 291 conserved and 245 novel miRNAs were identified. Most of the conserved and novel miRNAs were detected with moderate abundance. The miRNAs in the same cluster normally showed correlated expressional profiles.

Conservation analysis of 79 miRNA famililes within 33 species



Conservation analysis of the 79 miRNA families identified from the sRNA library of G. molesta was conducted among 33 species belonging to the three phyla, Arthropoda, Nematoda and Chordata. The miRNA information of the other 32 species was retrieved from the miRBase. Colored box indicated the presence of the conserved miRNA family and the same color indicated species belonging to the same order of insect in Hexapoda, the same class in Arthropoda except for the Hexapoda species, C. elegans in Nematoda, and Homo sampiens in Chordata.

A comparative analysis of the 79 conserved miRNA families within 31 arthropod species indicated that these miRNA families were more conserved among insects and within orders of closer phylogenetic relationships. The KEGG pathway analysis and network prediction of target genes indicated that the complex composed of miRNAs, clock genes and developmental regulation genes may play vital roles to regulate the developmental circadian rhythm of Gmolesta. Furthermore, based on the sRNA library of Gmolesta, suitable reference genes were selected and validated for study of miRNA transcriptional profile in Gmolesta under two biotic and six abiotic experimental conditions.

This study systematically documented the miRNA profile in Gmolesta, which could lay a foundation for further understanding of the regulatory roles of miRNAs in the development and metabolism in this pest and might also suggest clues to the development of genetic-based techniques for agricultural pest control.


Wang X, Li Y, Zhang J, Zhang Q, Liu X, Li Z (2017) De novo characterization of microRNAs in oriental fruit moth Grapholita molesta and selection of reference genes for normalization of microRNA expression. PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171120. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171120 [article]

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