Phytoplasma-Responsive microRNAs Modulate Hormonal, Nutritional, and Stress Signalling Pathways in Mexican Lime Trees
BACKGROUNDWitches' broom disease of Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia L.), which is associated to the phytoplasma 'Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia', is a devastating disease that results in significant economic losses. Plants adapt to biotic stresses by regulating gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a recently identified family of molecules that regulate plant responses to environmental stresses through post-transcriptional gene silencing.
METHODSUsing a high-throughput approach to sequence small RNAs, we compared the expression profiles of miRNAs in healthy Mexican lime trees and in plants infected with 'Ca. P. aurantifolia'.
RESULTSOur results demonstrated the involvement of different miRNAs in the response of Mexican lime trees to infection by 'Ca. P. aurantifolia'. We identified miRNA families that are expressed differentially upon infection with phytoplasmas. Most of the miRNAs had variants with small sequence variations (isomiRs), which are expressed differentially in response to pathogen infection.
CONCLUSIONSIt is likely that the miRNAs that are expressed differentially in healthy and phytoplasma-infected Mexican lime trees are involved in coordinating the regulation of hormonal, nutritional, and stress signalling pathways, and the complex interactions between them. Future research to elucidate the roles of these miRNAs should improve our understanding of the level of diversity of specific plant responses to phytoplasmas.
Additional details for this publication include: