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Association genetics in Populus reveals the interactions between Pto-miR160a and its target Pto-ARF16
- Tian, Jiaxing, Chen, Jinhui, Li, Bailian, Zhang, Deqiang
- Molecular genetics and genomics 2016 v.291 no.3 pp. 1069-1082
- Populus tomentosa, binding capacity, chromosome mapping, epistasis, gene expression regulation, linkage disequilibrium, marker-assisted selection, microRNA, phenotype, single nucleotide polymorphism, tree growth, wood properties
- MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in the regulation of gene expression in various biological processes. However, the interactions between miRNAs and their targets are largely unknown in plants. As a powerful tool for identification of variation associated with traits, association genetics provides another strategy for exploration of interactions between miRNAs and their targets. Here, we conducted expression analysis and association mapping to evaluate the interaction between Pto-miR160a and its target Pto-ARF16 in Populus tomentosa. By examining the expression patterns of Pto-MIR160a and Pto-ARF16, we identified a significant, negative correlation between their expression levels, indicating that Pto-miR160a may affect the expression of Pto-ARF16. Among the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified in this study, one common SNP in the pre-miRNA region of Pto-miR160a altered its predicted secondary structure while another common SNP in the predicted miRNA target site changed the binding affinity of Pto-miR160a. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis revealed low LD levels of Pto-MIR160a and Pto-ARF16, indicating that they are suitable for candidate gene-based association analysis. Single SNP-based association analysis identified 19 SNPs (false discovery rate Q < 0.05) in Pto-MIR160a and Pto-ARF16 associated with three phenotypic traits. Epistasis analysis further identified 36 SNP–SNP interactions between SNPs in Pto-MIR160a and SNPs in Pto-ARF16, reflecting the possible genetic interaction of Pto-miR160a and Pto-ARF16. Taking these results together, our study identified SNPs in Pto-MIR160a and Pto-ARF16 associated with tree growth and wood properties, providing SNPs with potential applications in marker-assisted breeding and evidence for the genetic interaction of Pto-miR160a and Pto-ARF16.