Genome-Wide Analysis of microRNA Expression Profile in Roots and Leaves of Three Wheat Cultivars under Water and Drought Conditions
Wheat is one of the most important food sources on Earth. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in wheat productivity. To identify wheat miRNAs as well as their expression profiles under drought condition, we constructed and sequenced small RNA (sRNA) libraries from the leaves and roots of three wheat cultivars (Kukri, RAC875 and Excalibur) under water and drought conditions. A total of 636 known miRNAs and 294 novel miRNAs were identified, of which 34 miRNAs were tissue- or cultivar-specific. Among these, 314 were significantly regulated under drought conditions. miRNAs that were drought-regulated in all cultivars displayed notably higher expression than those that responded in a cultivar-specific manner. Cultivar-specific drought response miRNAs were mainly detected in roots and showed significantly different drought regulations between cultivars. By using wheat degradome library, 6619 target genes were identified. Many target genes were strongly enriched for protein domains, such as MEKHLA, that play roles in drought response. Targeting analysis showed that drought-downregulated miRNAs targeted more genes than drought-upregulated miRNAs. Furthermore, such genes had more important functions. Additionally, the genes targeted by drought-downregulated miRNAs had multiple interactions with each other, while the genes targeted by drought-upregulated miRNAs had no interactions. Our data provide valuable information on wheat miRNA expression profiles and potential functions in different tissues, cultivars and drought conditions.