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Article|01 Aug 2020|OPEN
MiR156 regulates anthocyanin biosynthesis through SPL targets and other microRNAs in poplar
Yamei Wang1,2, Wenwen Liu1, Xinwei Wang3, Ruijuan Yang1,2, Zhenying Wu1, Han Wang1,2, Lei Wang4, Zhubing Hu4, Siyi Guo4, Hailing Zhang5, Jinxing Lin3 & Chunxiang Fu1,
1Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Energy Genetics, Key Laboratory of Biofuels, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao Institute of BioEnergy and Bioprocess Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266101, China
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3College of Biological Sciences & Biotechnology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 10083, China
4Collaborative Innovation Center of Crop Stress Biology, Henan Province and Institute of Plant Stress Biology, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, China
5Grass and Science Institute of Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

Horticulture Research 7,
Article number: 118 (2020)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2020.118
Views: 485

Received: 28 Feb 2020
Revised: 23 Apr 2020
Accepted: 12 May 2020
Published online: 01 Aug 2020


Anthocyanins biosynthesized from the flavonoid pathway are types of pigments that are involved in the protection of poplar from biotic and abiotic stresses. Previous researchers studying anthocyanin-related transcription factors and structural genes in poplar have made significant discoveries. However, little is known about the regulatory role of microRNAs in anthocyanin biosynthesis in poplar. Here, we overexpressed miR156 in poplar to study the comprehensive effects of the miR156-SPL module on the biosynthesis of anthocyanins. Small RNA sequencing analysis revealed 228 microRNAs differentially expressed in transgenic poplar plants with dramatically increased miR156 levels. Furthermore, integrated microRNAomic and transcriptomic analysis suggested that two microRNAs, miR160h, and miR858, have the potential to affect anthocyanin accumulation in poplar by regulating auxin response factors and MYB transcription factors, respectively. Additionally, the accumulation of miR160h and miR858 displayed a positive correlation with miR156 levels, suggesting a possible interaction between the miR156-SPL module and these microRNAs in poplar. Last, metabolomics analysis revealed that the levels of anthocyanins, flavones, and flavonols were substantially elevated in transgenic poplar plants overexpressing miR156 compared with the wild type, whereas the total lignin content was reduced in the transgenic plants. Taken together, our results indicate that miR156 can fine tune the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway via multiple factors, including microRNAs, transcription factors, and the levels of structural genes, in poplar. This provides additional clues for understanding the complex regulatory network of anthocyanin biosynthesis in woody plants.