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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Parasitic plant small RNA analyses unveil parasite-specific signatures of microRNA retention, loss, and gain

Zangishei, Zahra; Annacondia, Maria Luz; Gundlach, Heidrun; Didriksen, Alena; Bruckmuller, Julien; Salari, Hooman; Krause, Kirsten; Martinez, German


Parasitism is a successful life strategy that has evolved independently in several families of vascular plants. The genera Cuscuta and Orobanche represent examples of the two profoundly different groups of parasites: one parasitizing host shoots and the other infecting host roots. In this study, we sequenced and described the overall repertoire of small RNAs from Cuscuta campestris and Orobanche aegyptiaca. We showed that C. campestris contains a number of novel microRNAs (miRNAs) in addition to a conspicuous retention of miRNAs that are typically lacking in other Solanales, while several typically conserved miRNAs seem to have become obsolete in the parasite. One new miRNA appears to be derived from a horizontal gene transfer event. The exploratory analysis of the miRNA population (exploratory due to the absence of a full genomic sequence for reference) from the root parasitic O. aegyptiaca also revealed a loss of a number of miRNAs compared to photosynthetic species from the same order. In summary, our study shows partly similar evolutionary signatures in the RNA silencing machinery in both parasites. Our data bear proof for the dynamism of this regulatory mechanism in parasitic plants.MicroRNAs in parasitic plants reflect their lifestyle.

Published in

Plant Physiology

Authors' information

Zangishei, Zahra
Razi University
Zangishei, Zahra
UiT The Arctic University of Tromso
Annacondia, María Luz (Annacondia, María Luz)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology
Gundlach, Heidrun
Helmholtz Association
Didriksen, Alena
UiT The Arctic University of Tromso
Bruckmuller, Julien
UiT The Arctic University of Tromso
Salari, Hooman
Razi University
Krause, Kirsten
UiT The Arctic University of Tromso
Martinez Arias, German (Martinez-Arias, Germán)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology

UKÄ Subject classification

Evolutionary Biology
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

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