Abstract Since the first diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) gene was characterized in plants, a number of studies have focused on understanding the role of DGAT activity in plant triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthesis. DGAT enzyme is essential in controlling TAGs synthesis and is encoded by different genes. DGAT1 and DGAT2 are the two major types of DGATs and have been well characterized in many plants. On the other hand, the DGAT3 and WS/DGAT have received less attention. In this study, we present the first general view of the presence of putative DGAT3 and WS/DGAT in several plant species and report on the diversity and evolution of these genes and its relationships with the two main DGAT genes (DGAT1 and DGAT2). According to our analyses DGAT1, DGAT2, DGAT3 and WS/DGAT are very divergent genes and may have distinct origin in plants. They also present divergent expression patterns in different organs and tissues. The maintenance of several types of genes encoding DGAT enzymes in plants demonstrates the importance of DGAT activity for TAG biosynthesis. Evolutionary history studies of DGATs coupled with their expression patterns help us to decipher their functional role in plants, helping to drive future biotechnological studies.
As microRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of many biological processes, a series of small RNAomes from plants have been produced in the last decade. However, miRNA data from several groups of plants are still lacking, including some economically important crops. Here microRNAs from Coffea canephora leaves were profiled and 58 unique sequences belonging to 33 families were found, including two novel microRNAs that have never been described before in plants. Some of the microRNA sequences were also identified in Coffea arabica that, together with C. canephora, correspond to the two major sources of coffee production in the world. The targets of almost all miRNAs were also predicted on coffee expressed sequences. This is the first report of novel miRNAs in the genus Coffea, and also the first in the plant order Gentianales. The data obtained establishes the basis for the understanding of the complex miRNA-target network on those two important crops.
Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) are enzymes that inhibit protein synthesis after depurination of a specific adenine in rRNA. The RIP family members are classified as type I RIPs that contain an RNA-N-glycosidase domain and type II RIPs that contain a lectin domain (B chain) in addition to the glycosidase domain (A chain). In this work, we identified 30 new plant RIPs and characterized 18 Ricinus communis RIPs. Phylogenetic and functional divergence analyses indicated that the emergence of type I and II RIPs probably occurred before the monocot/eudicot split. We also report the expression profiles of 18 castor bean genes, including those for ricin and agglutinin, in five seed stages as assessed by quantitative PCR. Ricin and agglutinin were the most expressed RIPs in developing seeds although eight other RIPs were also expressed. All of the RIP genes were most highly expressed in the stages in which the endosperm was fully expanded. Although the reason for the large expansion of RIP genes in castor beans remains to be established, the differential expression patterns of the type I and type II members reinforce the existence of biological functions other than defense against predators and herbivory.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been identified as key molecules in regulatory networks. The fine-tuning role of miRNAs in addition to the regulatory role of transcription factors has shown that molecular events during development are tightly regulated. In addition, several miRNAs play crucial roles in the response to abiotic stress induced by drought, salinity, low temperatures, and metals such as aluminium. Interestingly, several miRNAs have overlapping roles with regard to development, stress responses, and nutrient homeostasis. Moreover, in response to the same abiotic stresses, different expression patterns for some conserved miRNA families among different plant species revealed different metabolic adjustments. The use of deep sequencing technologies for the characterisation of miRNA frequency and the identification of new miRNAs adds complexity to regulatory networks in plants. In this review, we consider the regulatory role of miRNAs in plant development and abiotic stresses, as well as the impact of deep sequencing technologies on the generation of miRNA data.
A large number of small RNAs unrelated to the soybean genome were identified after deep sequencing of soybean small RNA libraries. A metatranscriptomic analysis was carried out to identify the origin of these sequences. Comparative analyses of small interference RNAs (siRNAs) present in samples collected in open areas corresponding to soybean field plantations and samples from soybean cultivated in greenhouses under a controlled environment were made. Different pathogenic, symbiotic and free-living organisms were identified from samples of both growth systems. They included viruses, bacteria and different groups of fungi. This approach can be useful not only to identify potentially unknown pathogens and pests, but also to understand the relations that soybean plants establish with microorganisms that may affect, directly or indirectly, plant health and crop production.