MicroRNA (miRNA) mediated changes in gene expression by post-transcriptional modulation of major regulatory transcription factors is a potent mechanism for integrating growth and stress-related responses. Exotic plants including many traditional varieties of Andean potatoes (Solanum tuberosum subsp. andigena) are known for better adaptation to marginal environments. Stress physiological studies confirmed earlier reports on the salinity tolerance potentials of certain andigena cultivars. Guided by the hypothesis that certain miRNAs play important roles in growth modulation under suboptimal conditions, we identified and characterized salinity stress-responsive miRNA-target gene pairs in the andigena cultivar Sullu by parallel analysis of noncoding and coding RNA transcriptomes. Inverse relationships were established by the reverse co-expression between two salinity stress-regulated miRNAs (miR166, miR159) and their target transcriptional regulators HD-ZIP-Phabulosa/Phavulota and Myb101, respectively. Based on heterologous models in Arabidopsis, the miR166-HD-ZIP-Phabulosa/Phavulota network appears to be involved in modulating growth perhaps by mediating vegetative dormancy, with linkages to defense-related pathways. The miR159-Myb101 network may be important for the modulation of vegetative growth while also controlling stress-induced premature transition to reproductive phase. We postulate that the induction of miR166 and miR159 under salinity stress represents important network hubs for balancing gene expression required for basal growth adjustments.
- Andean potato
- Post-transcriptional silencing
- Regulatory network