Dodder species (Cuscuta
spp.) are holoparasites that have extensive material exchange with their host plants through vascular connections. Recent studies on cross-species transfer have provided breakthrough insights, but little is known about the interaction mechanisms of the inter-plant mobile substances in parasitic systems. We sequenced the transcriptomes of dodder growing on soybean hosts to characterize the long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) transfer between the two species, and found that lncRNAs can move in high numbers (365 dodder lncRNAs and 14 soybean lncRNAs) in a bidirectional manner. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction further confirmed that individual lncRNAs were trafficked in the dodder–soybean parasitic system. To reveal the potential functions of mobile transcripts, the Gene Ontology terms of mobile lncRNA target genes were predicted, and mobile dodder target genes were found to be mainly enriched in “metabolic process”, “catalytic activity”, “signaling”, and “response to stimulus” categories, whereas mobile soybean target genes were enriched in organelle-related categories, indicating that specific mobile lncRNAs may be important in regulating dodder parasitism. Our findings reveal that lncRNAs are transferred between dodder and its host soybean plants, which may act as critical regulators to coordinate the host–dodder interaction at the whole parasitic level.
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