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International Journal of Genomics
Volume 2013, Article ID 857986, 10 pages
Research Article

Identification of Cassava MicroRNAs under Abiotic Stress

1Agrobiodiversity and Biotechnology Project, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), A.A. 6713, Cali, Colombia
2Department of Systems Biology, Columbia University, 1130 Saint Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY 10032, USA
3The Genome Analysis Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK

Received 2 August 2013; Accepted 11 October 2013

Academic Editor: Gaurav Sablok

Copyright © 2013 Carolina Ballén-Taborda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study of microRNAs (miRNAs) in plants has gained significant attention in recent years due to their regulatory role during development and in response to biotic and abiotic stresses. Although cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is tolerant to drought and other adverse conditions, most cassava miRNAs have been predicted using bioinformatics alone or through sequencing of plants challenged by biotic stress. Here, we use high-throughput sequencing and different bioinformatics methods to identify potential cassava miRNAs expressed in different tissues subject to heat and drought conditions. We identified 60 miRNAs conserved in other plant species and 821 potential cassava-specific miRNAs. We also predicted 134 and 1002 potential target genes for these two sets of sequences. Using real time PCR, we verified the condition-specific expression of 5 cassava small RNAs relative to a non-stress control. We also found, using publicly available expression data, a significantly lower expression of the predicted target genes of conserved and nonconserved miRNAs under drought stress compared to other cassava genes. Gene Ontology enrichment analysis along with condition specific expression of predicted miRNA targets, allowed us to identify several interesting miRNAs which may play a role in stress-induced posttranscriptional regulation in cassava and other plants.