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Comparative expression profiling of miRNA during anther development in genetic male sterile and wild type cotton

Mingming Wei12, Hengling Wei1, Man Wu1, Meizhen Song1, Jinfa Zhang3, Jiwen Yu1*, Shuli Fan1* and Shuxun Yu12*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Cotton Biology, Institute of Cotton Research of CAAS, Anyang, 455000 Henan, P. R. China

2 College of Agronomy, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, 712100 Shaanxi, P. R. China

3 Department of biology, New Mexico State University, Montreal 880033, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-66

Published: 19 April 2013



Genetic male sterility (GMS) in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) plays an important role in the utilization of hybrid vigor. However, the molecular mechanism of the GMS is still unclear. While numerous studies have demonstrated that microRNAs (miRNA) regulate flower and anther development, whether different small RNA regulations exist in GMS and its wild type is unclear. A deep sequencing approach was used to investigate the global expression and complexity of small RNAs during cotton anther development in this study.


Three small RNA libraries were constructed from the anthers of three development stages each from fertile wild type (WT) and its GMS mutant cotton, resulting in nearly 80 million sequence reads. The total number of miRNAs and short interfering RNAs in the three WT libraries was significantly greater than that in the corresponding three mutant libraries. Sixteen conserved miRNA families were identified, four of which comprised the vast majority of the expressed miRNAs during anther development. In addition, six conserved miRNA families were significantly differentially expressed during anther development between the GMS mutant and its WT.


The present study is the first to deep sequence the small RNA population in G. hirsutum GMS mutant and its WT anthers. Our results reveal that the small RNA regulations in cotton GMS mutant anther development are distinct from those of the WT. Further results indicated that the differently expressed miRNAs regulated transcripts that were distinctly involved in anther development. Identification of a different set of miRNAs between the cotton GMS mutant and its WT will facilitate our understanding of the molecular mechanisms for male sterility.