Plant Science Volume 235, June 2015, Pages 46–57 Cover image High throughput sequencing of small RNA component of leaves and inflorescence revealed conserved and novel miRNAs as well as phasiRNA loci in chickpea
Among legumes, chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is the second most important crop after soybean. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles by regulating target gene expression importantfor plant development and tolerance to stress conditions. Additionally, recently discovered phased siRNAs (phasiRNAs), a new class of small RNAs, are abundantly produced in legumes. Nevertheless, little is known about these regulatory molecules in chickpea. The small RNA population was sequenced from leaves and flowers of chickpea to identify conserved and novel miRNAs as well as phasiRNAs/phasiRNA loci. Bioinformatics analysis revealed 157 miRNA loci for the 96 highly conserved and known miRNA homologs belonging to 38 miRNA families in chickpea. Furthermore, 20 novel miRNAs belonging to 17 miRNA families were identified. Sequence analysis revealed approximately 60 phasiRNA loci. Potential target genes likely to be regulated by these miRNAs were predicted and some were confirmed by modified 5 RACE assay. Predicted targets are mostly transcription factors that might be important for developmental processes, and others include superoxide dismutases, plantacyanin, laccases and F-box proteins that could participate in stress responses and protein degradation. Overall, this study provides an inventory of miRNA–target gene interactions for chickpea, useful for the comparative analysis of small RNAs among legumes.