Identification and characterization of drought responsive microRNAs and their target genes in cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton)
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Plant miRNAs are found to be present throughout the genome and they regulate gene expression either by cleaving mRNA or inhibiting the translational process at the post transcriptional level. Drought is one of the major limiting factors that negatively affect productivity of plants. Cardamom cultivation is having good production potential but the plants are vulnerable to biotic and abiotic stress factors. To date, nothing is known about the regulatory roles of miRNAs in response to drought stress in cardamom. Ion Torrent sequencing of two small RNA libraries prepared from control (C) and treated (T) plants raised under well irrigated and drought stressed treatments respectively created 3,938,342 and 4,083,181 primary reads. A total of 150 conserved and 20 novel microRNAs were identified from both the control and treated libraries. Discovery of 17 differentially expressed miRNAs under drought stress suggests that these miRNAs might have involved in various biological processes to improve plant tolerance to water stress. Several target genes for drought stress regulating miRNAs were identified including miR156l and miR169c which cleave the target mRNA involved in response to water deprivation. miR530b and miR156a target mRNAs which respond to water deprivation and inhibit the translational process. The expression patterns of some of the miRNAs and their targets were validated by qRT-PCR. This study is the first report of drought responsive miRNAs and their targets in cardamom. The outcome of this research could provide insights into the miRNA based regulatory mechanisms in response to drought stress in monocot plants.
KeywordsCardamom MicroRNA Drought Next generation sequencing Bioinformatics qRT PCR
The authors thank the Director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden & Research Institute (JNTBGRI) for providing the necessary facilities to carry out this research work. We acknowledge the permission granted by Kerala Forest Department for collecting the plant samples. Thanks are due to Vishnu, J. S. and Shefeek, S. for various assistances rendered for the study. We are grateful to the staff at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP, Bangalore, India) and Origin Labs, Kerala for performing high throughput sequencing and qRT-PCR respectively. The research was supported by Kerala State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment (KSCSTE), Trivandrum by granting Research Fellowship to N. Anjali (010-31/FSHP/10/CSTE).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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