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Prediction and characterization of novel microRNAs from brown plant hopper, Nilaparvata lugens (Stål) (Hemiptera: Delphacidae)



Rebijith K. Balan, Division of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore 560 089, India. Email:


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small, endogenously initiated non-coding RNAs that extensively regulate gene expression either by mRNA cleavage or by translational repression, thus playing important roles in the development and physiology of organisms. Experimental identification and characterization of spatially and temporally expressed miRNAs is a monumental task in insects such as the brown plant hopper, Nilaparvata lugens, a major pest of rice and also a vector of Tenuivirus. At this juncture bioinformatics approaches, which primarily depend on sequence homology and secondary structure verification, will be an invaluable tool. A total of nine novel miRNAs were identified in N. lugens using the computational approaches from 1 13 718 Expressed Sequence Tags. The phylogenetic analysis was carried out to compare their level of conservation with respect to other members of the animal kingdom. The functional annotation of these newly identified miRNAs revealed that the majority of them are involved in the transcription regulatory activity and signal transduction pathways. These regulatory impacts are promising towards insect pest management but need further experimental validation and functional analyses. Thus, the outcome of this study will help to carry out the gene knockdown and transgenesis studies for the functional analysis of the newly identified miRNA-regulated phenotypes in N. lugens.