Small RNA-mediated responses to low- and high-temperature stresses in cotton
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are one class of endogenous non-coding RNAs modulating the expression of target genes involved in plant development and stress tolerance, by degrading mRNA or repressing translation. In this study, small RNA and mRNA degradome sequencing were used to identify low- and high-temperature stress-responsive miRNAs and their targets in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Cotton seedlings were treated under different temperature conditions (4, 12, 25, 35, and 42 °C) and then the effects were investigated. In total, 319 known miRNAs and 800 novel miRNAs were identified, and 168 miRNAs were differentially expressed between different treatments. The targets of these miRNAs were further analysed by degradome sequencing. Based on studies from Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, the majority of the miRNAs are from genes that are likely involved in response to hormone stimulus, oxidation-reduction reaction, photosynthesis, plant–pathogen interaction and plant hormone signal transduction pathways. This study provides new insight into the molecular mechanisms of plant response to extreme temperature stresses, and especially the roles of miRNAs under extreme temperatures.