Genome-wide identification and characterization of miRNAome from tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) roots and root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) during susceptible interaction

PLoS One. 2017 Apr 20;12(4):e0175178. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175178. eCollection 2017.


Root-knot nematodes (RKNs, Meloidogyne spp.) are the most damaging plant parasites causing severe losses to crop production. The present study reports genome-wide identification and characterization of both tomato and RKN miRNAs simultaneously from RKN-infected susceptible tomato roots using high-throughput sequencing technique. RNAseq data from 11 small RNA libraries derived from 5 disease development stages identified 281 novel miRNAs of tomato in addition to 52 conserved and 4 variants of conserved miRNAs. Additionally, the same set of RNAseq data identified 38 conserved and 290 novel RKN miRNAs. Both tomato and RKN miRNAs showed differential expression at 5 stages of disease development based on digital expression profiles. In tomato, further validation through qRT-PCR confirmed that majority of miRNAs were significantly upregulated during susceptible response whereas downregulated during resistance response. The predicted targets of 8 conserved and 1 novel miRNAs were validated through 5'RLM-RACE. A negative correlation between expression profiles of a few conserved miRNAs (miR156, miR159, miR164 and miR396) and their targets (SBP, GAMYB-like, NAC and GRF1 transcription factor) was confirmed. A novel Sly_miRNA996 also showed a negative correlation with its target MYB-like transcription factor. These results indicate that the conserved and novel tomato miRNAs are involved in regulating developmental changes in host root during RKN infection. In RKN, the targets of conserved miRNAs were also predicted and a few of their predicted target genes are known to be involved in nematode parasitism. Further, the potential roles of both tomato and RKN miRNAs have been discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Plant Roots / genetics*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / genetics
  • Solanum lycopersicum / parasitology*
  • Tylenchoidea / pathogenicity*


  • MicroRNAs

Grants and funding

This research work was supported by grants sanctioned to AK by National Agricultural Science Fund (NASF), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, project code (NFBSFARA/RNA-3022/2012-13) and R&D grant, University of Delhi. PK is also thankful to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India for providing her junior and senior research fellowships.