Journal Article

Discovery of MicroRNA169 Gene Copies in Genomes of Flowering Plants through Positional Information

Martín Calviño and Joachim Messing

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 5, issue 2, pages 402-417
Published in print January 2013 |
Published online January 2013 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
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Expansion and contraction of microRNA (miRNA) families can be studied in sequenced plant genomes through sequence alignments. Here, we focused on miR169 in sorghum because of its implications in drought tolerance and stem-sugar content. We were able to discover many miR169 copies that have escaped standard genome annotation methods. A new miR169 cluster was found on sorghum chromosome 1. This cluster is composed of the previously annotated sbi-MIR169o together with two newly found MIR169 copies, named sbi-MIR169t and sbi-MIR169u. We also found that a miR169 cluster on sorghum chr7 consisting of sbi-MIR169l, sbi-MIR169m, and sbi-MIR169n is contained within a chromosomal inversion of at least 500 kb that occurred in sorghum relative to Brachypodium, rice, foxtail millet, and maize. Surprisingly, synteny of chromosomal segments containing MIR169 copies with linked bHLH and CONSTANS-LIKE genes extended from Brachypodium to dictotyledonous species such as grapevine, soybean, and cassava, indicating a strong conservation of linkages of certain flowering and/or plant height genes and microRNAs, which may explain linkage drag of drought and flowering traits and would have consequences for breeding new varieties. Furthermore, alignment of rice and sorghum orthologous regions revealed the presence of two additional miR169 gene copies (miR169r and miR169s) on sorghum chr7 that formed an antisense miRNA gene pair. Both copies are expressed and target different set of genes. Synteny-based analysis of microRNAs among different plant species should lead to the discovery of new microRNAs in general and contribute to our understanding of their evolution.

Keywords: comparative genomics; grasses; synteny; linkage drag; flowering; drought

Journal Article.  8329 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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