MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding RNAs that play important roles in plant development and abiotic stresses. To date, studies have mainly focused on the roles of individual miRNAs, however, a few have addressed the interactions among multiple miRNAs. In this study, we investigated the interplay and regulatory circuit between miR160 and miR165/166 and its effect on leaf development and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis using Short Tandem Target Mimic (STTM). By crossing STTM160 Arabidopsis with STTM165/166, we successfully generated a double mutant of miR160 and miR165/166. The double mutant plants exhibited a series of compromised phenotypes in leaf development and drought tolerance in comparison to phenotypic alterations in the single STTM lines. RNA-seq and qRT-PCR analyses suggested that the expression levels of auxin and ABA signaling genes in the STTM-directed double mutant were compromised compared to the two single mutants. Our results also suggested that miR160-directed regulation of auxin response factors (ARFs) contribute to leaf development via auxin signaling genes, whereas miR165/166- mediated HD-ZIP IIIs regulation confers drought tolerance through ABA signaling. Our studies further indicated that ARFs and HD-ZIP IIIs may play opposite roles in the regulation of leaf development and drought tolerance that can be further applied to other crops for agronomic traits improvement.
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The interaction between miR160 and miR165/166 in the control of leaf development and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis.
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