State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, People's Republic of China. [Email]
BACKGROUND : Water stress seriously constrains plant growth and yield. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) serve as versatile regulators in various biological regulatory processes. To date, the systematic screening and potential functions of lncRNA have not yet been characterized in Cleistogenes songorica, especially under water stress conditions. RESULTS : In this study, we obtained the root and shoot transcriptomes of young C. songorica plants subjected to different degrees of water stress and recovery treatments by Illumina-based RNA-seq. A total of 3397 lncRNAs were identified through bioinformatics analysis. LncRNA differential expression analysis indicated that the higher response of roots compared to shoots during water stress and recovery. We further identified the 1644 transcription factors, 189 of which were corresponded to 163 lncRNAs in C. songorica. Though comparative analyses with major Poaceae species based on blast, 81 water stress-related orthologues regulated to lncRNAs were identified as a core of evolutionary conserved genes important to regulate water stress responses in the family. Among these target genes, two genes were found to be involved in the abscisic acid (ABA) signalling pathway, and four genes were enriched for starch and sucrose metabolism. Additionally, the 52 lncRNAs were predicted as target mimics for microRNAs (miRNAs) in C. songorica. RT-qPCR results suggested that MSTRG.43964.1 and MSTRG.4400.2 may regulate the expression of miRNA397 and miRNA166, respectively, as target mimics under water stress and during recovery. Finally, a co-expression network was constructed based on the lncRNAs, miRNAs, protein-coding genes (PCgenes) and transcription factors under water stress and during recovery in C. songorica. CONCLUSIONS : In C. songorica, lncRNAs, miRNAs, PCgenes and transcription factors constitute a complex transcriptional regulatory network which lncRNAs can regulate PCgenes and miRNAs under water stress and recovery. This study provides fundamental resources to deepen our knowledge on lncRNAs during ubiquitous water stress.