BACKGROUND: The allotetraploid durum wheat [Triticum turgidum subsp. durum (Desf.) Husn.] is a highly economically important species especially in the Mediterranean basin. However, its genomics, transcriptomics and in particular microRNAome are still largely unknown.<br /><br />RESULTS: In the present work, two small RNA libraries from durum wheat Ciccio and Svevo cultivars were generated from different tissues at the late milk (Z77) developmental stage. A total of 167 conserved and 98 potential novel miRNAs were identified in the two libraries and interestingly, three novel miRNAs were found to be derived from ribosomal RNA. Putative target genes were predicted for conserved and novel miRNAs, the majority of which interact with nucleic acids, according to GO terms relative to molecular function. Quantitative qPCR analysis showed that several miRNAs identified were differentially expressed in the mature (Z77) developmental stage compared to young (Z14) tissues. Moreover, target gene expression analysis suggested that in roots, the putative genes encoding for the SQUAMOSA SPL2 and TGA1 proteins are regulated by ttu-miR156n, while MYB3 transcription factor by ttu-miR319f. Additionally, the Photosystem II P680 chlorophyll A apoprotein gene showed an expression level negatively correlated to that of ttu-novel-48 in leaves.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that, in durum wheat, these genes may play important roles in root/leaf development and are subjected to miRNA regulation. The prediction of novel miRNAs putatively derived from ribosomal RNA opens new perspectives on the study of plant miRNAs.
De Paola, D., Zuluaga, D. L., & Sonnante, G. (2016). The miRNAome of durum wheat: Isolation and characterisation of conserved and novel microRNAs and their target genes. BMC Genomics, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-2838-4