Coordinator: Paulo Cavalcanti G. Ferreira
IDENTIFICATION OF SUGARCANE MICRO-RNAs DIFFERENTIALLY EXPRESSED IN BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC STRESS CONDITIONS
The response to biotic and abiotic stress relies on a complex chain of gene expression regulation. Recent work demonstrate that epigenetic processes, in particular those involving microRNAs, play an important role in plant response to biotic and abiotic stresses. The main objectives of the research group are: 1) To understand which is the role of epigenetic processes, in particular those involving microRNAs, in transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of sugarcane genes in response to biotic stress, in particular to pathogenic bacteria such as Xanthomonas albilineans and Leifsonia xyli, and in response to beneficial endophytic bacteria that fix nitrogen, such as Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus e Herbaspirillum seropedicae. With this objective, we are identifying expressed sugarcane miRNAs in response to infection with Xanthomonas albilineans and Leifsonia xyli, and in response to colonization by Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus and Herbaspirillum seropedicae. Genes that are target by the miRNAs induced in sugarcane during the inoculation are being identified in the sugarcane sequence databases and their function is being studied. 2) In a similar way, microRNAs regulate the plant responses to biotic stresses. A similar approach was taken to study the epigenetic regulation of drought tolerance in sugarcane. The identification of microRNAs and their regulation in plants submitted to water stress will allow the identification of target genes, which can be used as molecular markers in transgenic plants.