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Study of Plant microRNAs by Small RNA Sequencing

Researchers at Zhejiang University, China have not only identified 64 cucumber miRNAs, which belongs to 29 known and two novel miRNA families, but also discovered that some of the miRNAs are differentially expressed in a tissue-dependent manner1. For the first time, we detected 21 sliced targets, which reveal interaction between miRNA and target in cucumber by using the recently developed degradome sequencing approach. This report will offer a foundation for future studies of the miRNA-mediated regulatory networks in cucumber.

The first genome-wide study for the identification of larch miRNAs by high-throughput sequencing strategy and the expression profiles of miRNAs and their targets in larch SE2. Although 83 conserved miRNAs were identified and 16 novel miRNAs plus 14 plausible miRNA candidates were discovered, there are still a great number of miRNAs that remain to be identified. This work contributes to the expression profiles of eleven miRNA families and their targets during the eight stages of larch SE. This work represents a significant step towards illuminating the functions of miRNAs during gymnosperm embryogenesis. The acquisition of precursor sequences lays the foundation for future functional studies of selected miRNAs during embryogenesis of larch, which is currently underway.

Recently, substantial research has been directed at improving the N-use efficiency of plants. A study led by researchers at the China Agricultural University has focused on maize, a valuable graminaceous monocot that provides feed, fodder, and biofuel3. By deep sequencing four small RNA libraries and one degradome from maize seedlings exposed to N deficiency, they were able to add 47 new miRNA families to the previously published 26 families in maize. In addition, we identified three, five, and one new member for the families of miR171, miR169, and miR398, respectively.

  1. Mao W, Li Z, Xia X, Li Y, Yu J. (2012) A Combined Approach of High-Throughput Sequencing and Degradome Analysis Reveals Tissue Specific Expression of MicroRNAs and Their Targets in Cucumber. PLoS One 7(3), e33040. [article]
  2. Zhang J, Zhang S, Han S, Wu T, Li X, Li W, Qi L. (2012) Genome-wide identification of microRNAs in larch and stage-specific modulation of 11 conserved microRNAs and their targets during somatic embryogenesis. Planta [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]
  3. Zhao M, Tai H, Sun S, Zhang F, Xu Y, et al. (2012) Cloning and Characterization of Maize miRNAs Involved in Responses to Nitrogen Deficiency. PLoS ONE 7(1), e29669. [article]