A cross between IR64 (high-yielding but drought-susceptible) and Aday Sel (drought-tolerant) rice cultivars yielded a stable line with enhanced grain yield under drought screening field trials at International Rice Research Institute. The major effect qDTY4.1 drought tolerance and yield QTL was detected in the IR77298-14-1-2-10 Backcrossed Inbred Line (BIL) and its IR87705-7-15-B Near Isogenic Line (NIL) with 93.9% genetic similarity to IR64. Although rice yield is extremely susceptible to water stress at reproductive stage, currently, there is only one report on the detection of drought-responsive microRNAs in inflorescence tissue of a Japonica rice line. In this study, more drought-responsive microRNAs were identified in the inflorescence tissues of IR64, IR77298-14-1-2-10 and IR87705-7-15-B via next-generation sequencing. Among the 32 families of inflorescence-specific non-conserved microRNAs that were identified, 22 families were up-regulated in IR87705-7-15-B. Overall 9 conserved and 34 non-conserved microRNA families were found as drought-responsive in rice inflorescence with 5 conserved and 30 non-conserved families induced in the IR87705-7-15-B. The observation of more drought-responsive non-conserved microRNAs may imply their prominence over conserved microRNAs in drought response mechanisms of rice inflorescence. Gene Ontology annotation analysis on the target genes of drought-responsive microRNAs identified in IR87705-7-15-B revealed over-representation of biological processes including development, signalling and response to stimulus. Particularly, four inflorescence-specific microRNAs viz. osa-miR5485, osa-miR5487, osa-miR5492 and osa-miR5517, and two non-inflorescence specific microRNAs viz. osa-miR169d and osa-miR169f.2 target genes that are involved in flower or embryonic development. Among them, osa-miR169d, osa-miR5492 and osa-miR5517 are related to flowering time control. It is also worth mentioning that osa-miR2118 and osa-miR2275, which are implicated in the biosynthesis of rice inflorescence-specific small interfering RNAs, were induced in IR87705-7-15-B but repressed in IR77298-14-1-2-10. Further, gene search within qDTY4.1 QTL region had identified multiple copies of NBS-LRR resistance genes (potential target of osa-miR2118), subtilisins and genes implicated in stomatal movement, ABA metabolism and cuticular wax biosynthesis.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.