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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


We applied miRNA expression profiling method to Populus trichocarpa stems of the three developmental stages, primary stem (PS), transitional stem (TS), and secondary stem (SS), to investigate miRNA species and their regulation on lignocellulosic synthesis and related processes. We obtained 892, 872, and 882 known miRNAs and 1727, 1723, and 1597 novel miRNAs, from PS, TS, and SS, respectively. Comparisons of these miRNA species among different developmental stages led to the identification of 114, 306, and 152 differentially expressed miRNAs (DE-miRNAs), which had 921, 2639, and 2042 candidate target genes (CTGs) in the three respective stages of the same order. Correlation analysis revealed 47, 439, and 71 DE-miRNA-CTG pairs of high negative correlation in PS, TS, and SS, respectively. Through biological process analysis, we finally identified 34, 6, and 76 miRNA-CTG pairs from PS, TS, and SS, respectively, and the miRNA target genes in these pairs regulate or participate lignocellulosic biosynthesis-related biological processes: cell division and differentiation, cell wall modification, secondary cell wall biosynthesis, lignification, and programmed cell death processes. This is the first report on an integrated analysis of genome-wide mRNA and miRNA profilings during multiple phases of poplar stem development. Our analysis results imply that individual miRNAs modulate secondary growth and lignocellulosic biosynthesis through regulating transcription factors and lignocellulosic biosynthetic pathway genes, resulting in more dynamic promotion, suppression, or regulatory circuits. This study advanced our understanding of many individual miRNAs and their essential, diversified roles in the dynamic regulation of secondary growth in woody tree species.

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© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Genetics Society of America. Publisher’s version of record:

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G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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