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BMC Genomics. 2019 Jul 29;20(1):615. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-5939-z.

The genome-wide impact of cadmium on microRNA and mRNA expression in contrasting Cd responsive wheat genotypes.

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Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, 610041, Sichuan, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China.
School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.
Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, 610041, Sichuan, China.



Heavy metal ATPases (HMAs) are responsible for Cd translocation and play a primary role in Cd detoxification in various plant species. However, the characteristics of HMAs and the regulatory mechanisms between HMAs and microRNAs in wheat (Triticum aestivum L) remain unknown.


By comparative microRNA and transcriptome analysis, a total three known and 19 novel differentially expressed microRNAs (DEMs) and 1561 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were found in L17 after Cd treatment. In H17, by contrast, 12 known and 57 novel DEMs, and only 297 Cd-induced DEGs were found. Functional enrichments of DEMs and DEGs indicate how genotype-specific biological processes responded to Cd stress. Processes found to be involved in microRNAs-associated Cd response include: ubiquitin mediated proteolysis, tyrosine metabolism, and carbon fixation pathways and thiamine metabolism. For the mRNA response, categories including terpenoid backbone biosynthesis and phenylalanine metabolism, and photosynthesis - antenna proteins and ABC transporters were enriched. Moreover, we identified 32 TaHMA genes in wheat. Phylogenetic trees, chromosomal locations, conserved motifs and expression levels in different tissues and roots under Cd stress are presented. Finally, we infer a microRNA-TaHMAs expression network, indicating that miRNAs can regulate TaHMAs.


Our findings suggest that microRNAs play important role in wheat under Cd stress through regulation of targets such as TaHMA2;1. Identification of these targets will be useful for screening and breeding low-Cd accumulation wheat lines.


HMA; RNA sequencing; Wheat; microRNA

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