Genome-wide profiling of sRNAs in the Verticillium dahliae-infected Arabidopsis roots

Small RNAs (sRNAs, including small interfering RNAs [siRNAs] and micro RNAs [miRNAs]) are key mediators of RNA silencing (or RNA interference), which play important roles in plant development and response to biotic and abiotic stimulation. Verticillium wilt is a plant vascular disease caused by the soil-borne fungal pathogens, such as Verticillium dahliae. We previously reported that V. dahliae infection increased two plant endogenous miRNAs that were exported to fungal cell to silence virulence genes. To investigate plant sRNAs in genome-wide response to V. dahliae infection, in this study, we constructed two sRNA libraries from Arabidopsis roots with and without V. dahliae infection, respectively. In total, 31 conserved miRNAs were found to be differentially expressed during the early stage of infection with V. dahliae using sRNA sequencing. Among these, the expression levels of miR160, miR164, miR166, miR167, miR390 and miR156h were confirmed by northern blot. Reverse transcription quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction results showed that the induction of miRNAs (miR160, miR164, miR166 and miR167) upon V. dahliae infection downregulated the expression of their targeted genes (ARF10, NAC1, PHV and ARF6), respectively. In addition, we identified specific phased siRNAs generated from distinct regions of two libraries. Profiling of these miRNAs and sRNAs lay the foundation for further understanding and utilising the host-induced gene silencing strategy to control plant vascular pathogens.