Bois noir is the most widespread phytoplasma grapevine disease in Europe. It is associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’, but molecular interactions between the causal pathogen and its host plant are not well understood. In this work, we combined the analysis of high-throughput RNA-Seq and sRNA-Seq data with interaction network analysis for finding new cross-talks among pathways involved in infection of grapevine cv. Zweigelt with ‘Ca. P. solani’ in early and late growing seasons. While the early growing season was very dynamic at the transcriptional level in asymptomatic grapevines, the regulation at the level of small RNAs was more pronounced later in the season when symptoms developed in infected grapevines. Most differentially expressed small RNAs were associated with biotic stress. Our study also exposes the less-studied role of hormones in disease development and shows that hormonal balance was already perturbed before symptoms development in infected grapevines. Analysis at the level of communities of genes and mRNA-microRNA interaction networks revealed several new genes (e.g., expansins and cryptdin) that have not been associated with phytoplasma pathogenicity previously. These novel actors may present a new reference framework for research and diagnostics of phytoplasma diseases of grapevine.

We established the complete pipeline for CRISPR-Cas9-mediated modulation of miRNA expression in potato. It consists of (1) design and assembly of dual sgRNA CRISPR/Cas9 constructs, (2) transient transfection of protoplasts following fast and efficient screening by high resolution melting analysis to select functional sgRNAs, and (3) stable transformation of potato explants with functional sgRNAs and selection of regenerated transgenic lines with desired mutations and desired miRNA abundance based on sequencing and RT-qPCR. We show that miRNA-editing using dual sgRNA approach results in different types of mutations among transgenic lines but also in different alleles of the same plant, which are target site-dependent.. In all transgenic lines with Cas9 expression, we detected mutations, suggesting high efficiency of Cas9-editing. We confirmed the miRNA-editing efficiency of our optimised approach in two different potato genotypes and three different loci