Extending the sRNAome of Apple by next-generation sequencing
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.
The original publication is available at http://www.plosone.org
The global importance of apple as a fruit crop necessitates investigations into molecular aspects of the processes that influence fruit quality and yield, including plant development, fruit ripening and disease resistance. In order to study and understand biological processes it is essential to recognise the range of molecules, which influence these processes. Small non-coding RNAs are regulatory agents involved in diverse plant activities, ranging from development to stress response. The occurrence of these molecules in apple leaves was studied by means of next-generation sequencing. 85 novel microRNA (miRNA) gene loci were predicted and characterized along with known miRNA loci. Both cis- and trans-natural antisense transcript pairs were identified. Although the trans-overlapping regions were enriched in small RNA (sRNA) production, cis-overlaps did not seem to agree. More than 150 phased regions were also identified, and for a small subset of these, potential miRNAs that could initiate phasing, were revealed. Repeat-associated siRNAs, which are generated from repetitive genomic regions such as transposons, were also analysed. For this group almost all available repeat sequences, associated with the apple genome and present in Repbase, were found to produce siRNAs. Results from this study extend our current knowledge on apple sRNAs and their precursors significantly. A rich molecular resource has been created and is available to the research community to serve as a baseline for future studies.