Identification and characterization of circRNAs involved in the regulation of low nitrogen-promoted root growth in hexaploid wheat
Abstract Background: CircRNAs are widespread in plants and play important roles in response to abiotic stresses. Low nitrogen (LN) promotes the growth of plant root system, allowing it to explore more nitrogen. However, whether circRNAs involved in the response to LN stress and the regulation of LN-promoted root growth in wheat remains unclear. Methods: Two wheat varieties (LH9 and XN979) with contrasting root phenotypes to LN stress were used as materials to identify circRNAs under control and LN conditions by using high-throughput sequencing technology. Results: Six differentially expressed circRNAs (DECs) involved in the common response to LN stress and 23 DECs involved in the regulation of LN-promoted root growth were successfully identified. GO analysis of the DEC-host genes involved in the regulation of LN-promoted root growth showed that GO terms related to biological regulation, responses to stimuli and signalling were significantly enriched. Moreover, seven DECs were predicted to have miRNA binding sites and may serve as miRNA sponges to capture miRNAs from their target genes. Conclusions: LN stress altered the expression profiles of circRNAs in wheat. This is the first report of LN stress responsive circRNAs in plants. Our results provided new clues for investigating the functions of circRNAs in response to LN stress and in the regulation of LN-promoted wheat root growth.