Cassava mosaic disease (CMD) is caused by several divergent species belonging to the genus Begomovirus (Geminiviridae) transmitted by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci cryptic species group. In India and other parts of Asia, the Indian cassava mosaic virus-Kerala (ICMV-Ker) is an emergent begomovirus of cassava causing damage that results in reduced yield loss and tuber quality. Double-stranded RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) is an evolutionary conserved mechanism in eukaryotes and highly effective, innate defense system to inhibit plant viral replication and/or translation. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize cassava genome-encoded microRNAs (mes-miRNA) that are predicted to target ICMV-Ker ssDNA-encoded mRNAs, based on four in silico algorithms: miRanda, RNA22, Tapirhybrid, and psRNA. The goal is to deploy the predicted miRNAs to trigger RNAi and develop cassava plants with resistance to ICMV-Ker. Experimentally validated mature cassava miRNA sequences (n = 175) were downloaded from the miRBase biological database and aligned with the ICMV-Ker genome. The miRNAs were evaluated for base-pairing with the cassava miRNA seed regions and to complementary binding sites within target viral mRNAs. Among the 175 locus-derived mes-miRNAs evaluated, one cassava miRNA homolog, mes-miR1446a, was identified to have a predicted miRNA target binding site, at position 2053 of the ICMV-Ker genome. To predict whether the cassava miRNA might bind predicted ICMV-Ker mRNA target(s) that could disrupt viral infection of cassava plants, a cassava locus-derived miRNA–mRNA regulatory network was constructed using Circos software. The in silico-predicted cassava locus-derived mes-miRNA-mRNA network corroborated interactions between cassava mature miRNAs and the ICMV-Ker genome that warrant in vivo analysis, which could lead to the development of ICMV-Ker resistant cassava plants.
- Indian cassava mosaic virus-Kerala
- RNA interference
- computational miRNA algorithms
- non-coding RNA
- virus resistance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases