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Agronomy 2018, 8(7), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8070118

Profiling of the Differential Abundance of Drought and Salt Stress-Responsive MicroRNAs Across Grass Crop and Genetic Model Plant Species

Centre for Plant Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia
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Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract

In recent years, it has become readily accepted among interdisciplinary agriculturalists that the current global crop yield to land capability ratio is significantly insufficient to achieve food security for the predicted population of 9.5 billion individuals by the year 2050. This issue is further compounded by the: (1) food versus biofuel debate; (2) decreasing availability of arable land; (3) required reductions to the extensive and ongoing environmental damage caused by either poor agricultural practices or agriculture expansion, and; (4) increasingly unfavorable (duration and severity) crop cultivation conditions that accompany man-made climate change, driven by ever-expanding urbanization and its associated industrial practices. Mounting studies are repeatedly highlighting the critical importance of linking genotypes to agronomically beneficial phenotypes and/or using a molecular approach to help address this global crisis, as “simply” clearing the remaining natural ecosystems of the globe for the cultivation of additional, non-modified crops is not efficient, nor is this practice sustainable. The majority of global food crop production is sourced from a small number of members of the Poaceae family of grasses, namely; maize (Zea mays L.), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and rice (Oryza sativa L.). It is, therefore, of significant concern that all three of these Poaceae grass species are susceptible to a range of abiotic stresses, including drought and salt stress. Highly conserved among monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plant species, microRNAs (miRNAs) are now well-established master regulators of gene expression, influencing all aspects of plant development, mediating defense responses against pathogens and adaptation to environmental stress. Here we investigate the variation in the abundance profiles of six known abiotic stress-responsive miRNAs, following exposure to salt and drought stress across these three key Poaceae grass crop species as well as to compare these profiles to those obtained from the well-established genetic model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. Additionally, we outline the variables that are the most likely primary contributors to instances of differential miRNA abundance across the assessed species following drought or salt stress exposure, specifically; (1) identifying variations in the experimental conditions and/or methodology used to assess miRNA abundance, and; (2) the distribution of regulatory transcription factor binding sites within the putative promoter region of a MICRORNA (MIR) gene that encodes the highly conserved, stress-responsive miRNA. We also discuss the emerging role that non-conserved, species-specific miRNAs play in mediating a plant’s response to drought or salt stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought stress; salt stress; MICRORNA gene expression; microRNAs; microRNA-directed gene expression regulation; differential microRNA accumulation; Poaceae grass species; Arabidopsis thaliana drought stress; salt stress; MICRORNA gene expression; microRNAs; microRNA-directed gene expression regulation; differential microRNA accumulation; Poaceae grass species; Arabidopsis thaliana
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Pegler, J.L.; Grof, C.P.L.; Eamens, A.L. Profiling of the Differential Abundance of Drought and Salt Stress-Responsive MicroRNAs Across Grass Crop and Genetic Model Plant Species. Agronomy 2018, 8, 118.

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