Paulownia witches’ broom (PaWB) disease caused by phytoplasmas is a fatal disease that leads to considerable economic losses. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been demonstrated to play critical regulatory roles in posttranscriptional and transcriptional regulation. However, lncRNAs and their functional roles remain poorly characterized in Paulownia. To identify lncRNAs and investigate their roles in the response to PaWB phytoplasmas, RNA sequencing was performed for healthy Paulownia tomentosa
, PaWB-infected P. tomentosa
, and for healthy and PaWB-infected P. tomentosa treated with 100 mg L−1 rifampicin. A total of 28,614 unique mRNAs and 3693 potential lncRNAs were identified. Comparisons between lncRNAs and coding genes indicated that lncRNAs tended to have shorter transcripts and fewer exon numbers, and displayed significant expression specificity. Based on our comparison scheme, 1063 PaWB-related mRNAs and 110 PaWB-related lncRNAs were identified; among them, 12 PaWB-related candidate target genes that were regulated by nine PaWB-related lncRNAs were characterized. This study provides the first catalog of lncRNAs expressed in Paulownia and gives a revealing insight into the molecular mechanism responsible for PaWB.
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