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  1. Abstract The Solanaceae or “nightshade” family is an economically important group with remarkable diversity. To gain a better understanding of how the unique biology of the Solanaceae relates to the family’s small RNA (sRNA) genomic landscape, we downloaded over 255 publicly available sRNA data sets that comprise over 2.6 billion reads of sequence data. We applied a suite of computational tools to predict and annotate two major sRNA classes: (1) microRNAs (miRNAs), typically 20- to 22-nucleotide (nt) RNAs generated from a hairpin precursor and functioning in gene silencing and (2) short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), including 24-nt heterochromatic siRNAs typically functioning to repress repetitive regions of the genome via RNA-directed DNA methylation, as well as secondary phased siRNAs and trans-acting siRNAs generated via miRNA-directed cleavage of a polymerase II-derived RNA precursor. Our analyses described thousands of sRNA loci, including poorly understood clusters of 22-nt siRNAs that accumulate during viral infection. The birth, death, expansion, and contraction of these sRNA loci are dynamic evolutionary processes that characterize the Solanaceae family. These analyses indicate that individuals within the same genus share similar sRNA landscapes, whereas comparisons between distinct genera within the Solanaceae reveal relatively few commonalities.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 28, 2023
  2. Abstract In monocots other than maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa), the repertoire and diversity of microRNAs (miRNAs) and the populations of phased, secondary, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) are poorly characterized. To remedy this, we sequenced small RNAs (sRNA) from vegetative and dissected inflorescence tissue in 28 phylogenetically diverse monocots and from several early-diverging angiosperm lineages, as well as publicly available data from 10 additional monocot species. We annotated miRNAs, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and phasiRNAs across the monocot phylogeny, identifying miRNAs apparently lost or gained in the grasses relative to other monocot families, as well as a number of transfer RNA fragments misannotated as miRNAs. Using our miRNA database cleaned of these misannotations, we identified conservation at the 8th, 9th, 19th, and 3′-end positions that we hypothesize are signatures of selection for processing, targeting, or Argonaute sorting. We show that 21-nucleotide (nt) reproductive phasiRNAs are far more numerous in grass genomes than other monocots. Based on sequenced monocot genomes and transcriptomes, DICER-LIKE5, important to 24-nt phasiRNA biogenesis, likely originated via gene duplication before the diversification of the grasses. This curated database of phylogenetically diverse monocot miRNAs, siRNAs, and phasiRNAs represents a large collection of data that should facilitatemore »continued exploration of sRNA diversification in flowering plants.« less