Agricultural productivity is severely hampered by drought in many parts of the globe. It is well-known that wild plant species can tolerate drought better compared with their closely related cultivated plant species. Better drought adaptation of wild species over cultivated ones is attributed for their ability to differentially regulate gene expression. miRNAs, known to regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level, are believed to play an important role in plant adaptation to stresses. A recent study led by researchers from Oklahoma State University aimed to evaluate miRNA dynamics in a drought-tolerant wild Ipomoea campanulata L. and drought-sensitive cultivated Jacquemontia pentantha(Jacq.) of the family Convolvulaceae under ex situ drought.

MiRNA sequencing profiles revealed that 34 conserved miRNA families were analogous between the two species. Drought altered expression levels of several of these miRNAs in both the species. Drought-tolerant I. campanulata showed upregulation of miR398, miR168, miR858, miR162 and miR408, while miR394 and miR171 were downregulated.

Drought-sensitive J. pentantha showed upregulation of miR394, miR156, miR160, miR164, miR167, miR172, miR319, miR395, miR396, miR403 and downregulation of miR157.

Overall, basal miRNA levels and their drought mediated regulation were very different between the two species. It’s believed that the differential drought sensitivities of these two plant species can be attributed to these innate variations in miRNA levels and their expression.

 

Reference
V. Ghorecha, Y. Zheng, L. Liu, et al. (2017) MicroRNA dynamics in a wild and cultivated species of Convolvulaceae exposed to drought stress Physiol Mol Biol Plants 23:291 doi: 10.1007/s12298-017-0426-y [abstract]

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