Background: Nitrate and other nitrogen metabolites can act as signals that regulate global gene expression in plants. Adaptive changes in plant morphology and physiology triggered by changes in nitrate availability are partly explained by these changes in gene expression. Despite several genome-wide efforts to identify nitrate-regulated genes, no comprehensive study of the Arabidopsis root transcriptome under contrasting nitrate conditions has been carried out.
Results: In this work, we employed the Illumina high throughput sequencing technology to perform an integrated analysis of the poly-A + enriched and the small RNA fractions of the Arabidopsis thaliana root transcriptome in response to nitrate treatments. Our sequencing strategy identified new nitrate-regulated genes including 40 genes not represented in the ATH1 Affymetrix GeneChip, a novel nitrate-responsive antisense transcript and a new nitrate responsive miRNA/TARGET module consisting of a novel microRNA, miR5640 and its target, AtPPC3.
Conclusions: Sequencing of small RNAs and mRNAs uncovered new genes, and enabled us to develop new hypotheses for nitrate regulation and coordination of carbon and nitrogen metabolism.