Integration of small RNAs and transcriptome sequencing uncovers a complex regulatory network during vernalization and heading stages of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.)
Bushman, Bradley S
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Abstract Background Flowering is a critical reproductive process in higher plants. Timing of optimal flowering depends upon the coordination among seasonal environmental cues. For cool season grasses, such as Dactylis glomerata, vernalization induced by low temperature provides competence to initiate flowering after prolonged cold. We combined analyses of the transcriptome and microRNAs (miRNAs) to generate a comprehensive resource for regulatory miRNAs and their target circuits during vernalization and heading stages. Results A total of 3,846 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and 69 differentially expressed miRNAs were identified across five flowering stages. The expression of miR395, miR530, miR167, miR396, miR528, novel_42, novel_72, novel_107, and novel_123 demonstrated significant variations during vernalization. These miRNA targeted genes were involved in phytohormones, transmembrane transport, and plant morphogenesis in response to vernalization. The expression patterns of DEGs related to plant hormones, stress responses, energy metabolism, and signal transduction changed significantly in the transition from vegetative to reproductive phases. Conclusions Five hub genes, c136110_g1 (BRI1), c131375_g1 (BZR1), c133350_g1 (VRN1), c139830_g1 (VIN3), and c125792_g2 (FT), might play central roles in vernalization response. Our comprehensive analyses have provided a useful platform for investigating consecutive transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of critical phases in D. glomerata and provided insights into the genetic engineering of flowering-control in cereal crops.