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MicroRNA profiling of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci in response to feeding on tomato infected with Tomato yellow leaf curl virus

Daniel Hasegawa: USDA-ARS

<div>The whitefly <em>Bemisia tabaci </em>is a vector of viruses that infect food and fiber crops. Among the hundreds of viruses that are transmitted by <em>B. tabaci</em>, 90% of the species belong to the genus Begomovirus. To characterize whitefly regulatory mechanisms during <em>Tomato yellow leaf curl virus</em> (TYLCV) acquisition and transmission, we performed microRNA (miRNA) profiling of <em>B. tabaci </em>MEAM1 after feeding on tomato plants infected with TYLCV. A total of 160 miRNAs were identified, 68 being conserved and 92 novel miRNAs that were unique to <em>B. tabaci</em>. Interestingly, only two miRNAs were differentially expressed when whiteflies fed on TYLCV-infected tomato, compared to whiteflies that fed on uninfected tomato, and had predicted targets to Bta05482 (nuclear receptor) and Bta10702 (Very long chain 3R-3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydratase 2). We also mapped the miRNAs to another <em>B. tabaci </em>genome (MED) and identified six miRNAs that were unique to MEAM1. Lastly, to explore the relationship between miRNAs and gene expression, we referenced the miRNA data to transcriptome data, which was generated from the same pool of RNAs. Interestingly, approximately half of the miRNAs correlated inversely with their predicted target transcript expression (e.g., upregulated miRNA/downregulated transcript). Together, we link miRNA datasets with genomic and transcriptomic information to provide an in-depth analysis on the mechanisms of <em>B. tabaci </em>during virus acquisition and transmission.</div>