• Gao F, Wang N, Li H, Liu J, Fu C, Xiao Z, Wei C, Lu X, Feng J, Zhou Y. (2016) Identification of drought-responsive microRNAs and their targets in Ammopiptanthus mongolicus by using high-throughput sequencing. Scientific Reports 6(1), 34601.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate target gene expression to modulate plant growth, development, and biotic and abiotic stress response at the post-transcriptional level. Ammopiptanthus mongolicus, an ecologically important desert plant, is increasingly used as a model for studying stress tolerance in plants. The miRNA-mediated gene regulatory network might remarkably contribute to the high stress tolerance of A. mongolicus. However, a genome-wide identification of miRNAs and their targets is still lacking in A. mongolicus. In this study, 170 conserved and 156 non-conserved miRNAs were identified in A. mongolicus. We experimentally identified 298 miRNA-target pairs from the degradome data. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analyses identified 28 drought-responsive miRNAs in leaves and 15 in roots. Some characteristics of the miRNA-mediated regulatory network were found in A. mongolicus. Multiple miRNAs, including 2 newly identified non-conserved miRNAs, miR-P11 and miR-P14, generated from the precursors of miR169, were found to be involved in drought stress response. Further, miR2118 and miR858 participated in drought stress response by up-regulating OZF1 gene and certain MYB genes that were involved in the regulation of flavonol biosynthesis in A. mongolicus. The findings of this study might provide new insights for understanding the functions of miRNA in stress response in plants.

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