MicroRNAs and phenotypic plasticity

The MiRNAdapt Project

  • 3 year project, started 15th March 2012
  • €1.7 m, €0.25 m of which funded under the French ANR
    (project ANR-11-BSV6-01701)
  • Coordinator: Denis Tagu
  • Contact: denis.tagu@inrae.fr 


Context and Issues

  • The adaptation of an organism to its environment requires communications between its genes, forming a network
  • A living organism is regularly submitted to changes in its local environment, such as seasons. An organism needs to adapt in order to survive, and this involves complex interactions between the products of thousands of genes, such as the messenger RNAs or the microRNAs
  • Aphids are able to change the functioning of their genes to adapt to seasons
  • The aim is to better understand the biology of aphids (that are pests) in order to fight them more efficiently
  • We propose to describe the networks of the genes involved in aphids adaptation to seasons. The 34,000 genes of an aphid genome (the pea aphid in this study) are not active all together when seasons alternate. Some are activated, others are repressed. This allows aphids to alternate their reproductive mode between a clonal viviparous reproduction in spring and summer and a sexual oviparous reproduction in autumn
  • We want to describe and understand how the activity of the genes that are required for this transition and adaptation is affected by seasons. This means the analysis of thousands of possible interactions between messenger RNAs and their regulators miRNAs
  • This can be performed thanks to recent breakthroughs in genome analyses, the so-called genomics


Interdisciplinarity between biology, informatics and mathematics.

We will construct and analyse gene networks.

For this purpose, we combine techniques developed by bioinformatics with mathematical modeling to predict interactions.

Main Results

A first interaction network is obtained using the known mRNAs and miRNAs that are differentially expressed between aphid embryos developing as future asexual or sexual adults.


Rennes, UMR1349, IGEPP, INRA – Agrocampus-Ouest – Univ. Rennes1, coordinator: aphid genomics

Rennes, UMR IRISA, Bioinformatics and modelling (jacques.nicolas@irisa.fr)

Montpellier, UPR 1142, IGH, CNRS: small non-coding RNAs (herve.seitz@igh.cnrs.fr)

Funding and Support

ANR / INRA / Région Bretagne


Modification date: 06 February 2023 | Publication date: 06 May 2013 | By: IGEPP