Plants are exposed every day to multiple environmental cues, and tight transcriptome reprogramming is necessary to control the balance between responses to stress and processes of plant growth. In this context, the silencing phenomena mediated by small RNAs can drive transcriptional and epigenetic regulatory modifications, in turn shaping plant development and adaptation to the surrounding environment. Mounting experimental evidence has recently pointed to small noncoding RNAs as fundamental players in molecular signalling cascades activated upon exposure to abiotic and biotic stresses. Although, in the last decade, studies on stress responsive small RNAs increased significantly in many plant species, the physiological responses triggered by these molecules in the presence of environmental stresses need to be further explored. It is noteworthy that small RNAs can move either cell-to-cell or systemically, thus acting as mobile silencing effectors within the plant. This aspect has great importance when physiological changes, as well as epigenetic regulatory marks, are inspected in light of plant environmental adaptation. In this review, we provide an overview of the categories of mobile small RNAs in plants, particularly focusing on the biological implications of non-cell autonomous RNA silencing in the stress adaptive response and epigenetic modifications.
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