Computational identification of microRNAs and their targets in cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz.)

Mol Biotechnol. 2013 Mar;53(3):257-69. doi: 10.1007/s12033-012-9521-z.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a newly discovered class of noncoding endogenous small RNAs involved in plant growth and development as well as response to environmental stresses. miRNAs have been extensively studied in various plant species, however, only few information are available in cassava, which serves as one of the staple food crops, a biofuel crop, animal feed and industrial raw materials. In this study, the 169 potential cassava miRNAs belonging to 34 miRNA families were identified by computational approach. Interestingly, mes-miR319b was represented as the first putative mirtron demonstrated in cassava. A total of 15 miRNA clusters involving 7 miRNA families, and 12 pairs of sense and antisense strand cassava miRNAs belonging to six different miRNA families were discovered. Prediction of potential miRNA target genes revealed their functions involved in various important plant biological processes. The cis-regulatory elements relevant to drought stress and plant hormone response were identified in the promoter regions of those miRNA genes. The results provided a foundation for further investigation of the functional role of known transcription factors in the regulation of cassava miRNAs. The better understandings of the complexity of miRNA-mediated genes network in cassava would unravel cassava complex biology in storage root development and in coping with environmental stresses, thus providing more insights for future exploitation in cassava improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Computational Biology
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Droughts
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Manihot / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Antisense / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / isolation & purification*
  • Software
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Plant