Expression Analysis of MicroRNAs and MicroRNA-like RNAs in Aspergillus Flavus-Infected Aflatoxin Resistant and Susceptible Maize Inbred Lines
Harper, Amanda Benton
CommitteeWilliams, W. Paul
Chang, Sam K.C.
Corn (Zea mays) is frequently infected by a soil fungal pathogen Aspergillus flavus. The fungus produces aflatoxins, which cause liver cancer. Maize inbred lines that are resistant to infection by A. flavus have been developed, and these inbred lines provide excellent models for studying molecular mechanisms of maize resistance to the fungus. MicroRNA-like RNAs (milRNAs) recently identified in A. flavus had been found to be correlated with aflatoxin production conditions, suggesting that the milRNAs might play a role in the regulation of aflatoxin production. In this research, small RNAs were isolated from kernels of maize (resistant Mp719 and susceptible Va35) inoculated with A. flavus NRRL 3357 (aflatoxigenic) and NRRL 21882 (nonaflatoxigenic) and then subjected to RNA sequencing. Sequencing had identified 69 A. flavus milRNAs and 691 Z. mays miRNAs. The differential expression of some maize miRNAs revealed their potential role in response to inoculation, A. flavus growth, and aflatoxin production.