Botrytis cinerea Pers. Fr. is an important pathogen causing stem rot in tomatoes grown indoors for extended periods. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been reported as gene expression regulators related to several stress responses and B. cinerea infection in tomato. However, the function of miRNAs in the resistance to B. cinerea remains unclear.
The miRNA expression patterns in tomato in response to B. cinerea stress were investigated by high-throughput sequencing. In total, 143 known miRNAs and seven novel miRNAs were identified and their corresponding expression was detected in mock- and B. cinerea-inoculated leaves. Among those, one novel and 57 known miRNAs were differentially expressed in B. cinerea-infected leaves, and 8 of these were further confirmed by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR (qRT-PCR). Moreover, five of these eight differentially expressed miRNAs could hit 10 coding sequences (CDSs) via CleaveLand pipeline and psRNAtarget program. In addition, qRT-PCR revealed that four targets were negatively correlated with their corresponding miRNAs (miR319, miR394, and miRn1).
Results of sRNA high-throughput sequencing revealed that the upregulation of miRNAs may be implicated in the mechanism by which tomato respond to B. cinerea stress. Analysis of the expression profiles of B. cinerea-responsive miRNAs and their targets strongly suggested that miR319, miR394, and miRn1 may be involved in the tomato leaves’ response to B. cinerea infection.