The role of noncoding miRNAs in the modulation of plant-Verticillium interactions and its potential use for breeding of Verticillium resistance in oilseed rape (Brassica napus)


Team: Falk Behrens, Samarah Rizvi, Lena Ladewig, Yujun Ren

Grant Nr.: 22410312, supported by FNR/ BMBF-Bioökonomie, 2014-2017 

Verticillium longisporum causes devastating vascular disease of oilseed rape. Due to its extremely long and complex infection process, an intensive plant-fungus interaction is proposed.

We assume that the fungus has evolved a virulence mechanism by interference with plant miRNAs to reprogram gene expression and achieve infection in its host. We have deep-sequenced two small RNA libraries made from V. longisporum infected and non-infected oilseed rape roots and predicted miRNAs using Brassica AA (B. rapa) and CC (B. oleracea) as references for the corresponding AA/CC subgenomes.

We identified a set of miRNAs representing 360 conserved and 533 novel miRNAs, mapped these to the AA and CC genomes and identified 62 highly responsive miRNAs to V. longisporum infection. 

In this project, we focus on understanding the plant-fungus interactions modulated by miRNA-target interactions in Arabidopsis and in oilseed rape as well. Following activities are planned:  

  • Identification of key miRNAs, target genes and miRNA-target-interactions  


  • Functional characterization of miRNAs and their targeting genes


  • The model of regulation of plant miRNAs in response to fungal infection