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Perspectives on microRNAs and Phased Small Interfering RNAs in Maize (Zea mays L.): Functions and Big Impact on Agronomic Traits Enhancement

1
State Key Laboratory of Wheat and Maize Crop Science, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450002, China
2
Department of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
3
Department of Biotechnology, Sharda University, Greater Noida 201306, India
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2019, 8(6), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8060170
Received: 24 March 2019 / Revised: 10 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of MicroRNAs in Plants)
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Abstract

Small RNA (sRNA) population in plants comprises of primarily micro RNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). MiRNAs play important roles in plant growth and development. The miRNA-derived secondary siRNAs are usually known as phased siRNAs, including phasiRNAs and tasiRNAs. The miRNA and phased siRNA biogenesis mechanisms are highly conserved in plants. However, their functional conservation and diversification may differ in maize. In the past two decades, lots of miRNAs and phased siRNAs have been functionally identified for curbing important maize agronomic traits, such as those related to developmental timing, plant architecture, sex determination, reproductive development, leaf morphogenesis, root development and nutrition, kernel development and tolerance to abiotic stresses. In contrast to Arabidopsis and rice, studies on maize miRNA and phased siRNA biogenesis and functions are limited, which restricts the small RNA-based fundamental and applied studies in maize. This review updates the current status of maize miRNA and phased siRNA mechanisms and provides a survey of our knowledge on miRNA and phased siRNA functions in controlling agronomic traits. Furthermore, improvement of those traits through manipulating the expression of sRNAs or their targets is discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: maize (Zea mays L.); miRNA; phasiRNA; tasiRNA; agronomic traits; crop improvement maize (Zea mays L.); miRNA; phasiRNA; tasiRNA; agronomic traits; crop improvement
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Zhang, Z.; Teotia, S.; Tang, J.; Tang, G. Perspectives on microRNAs and Phased Small Interfering RNAs in Maize (Zea mays L.): Functions and Big Impact on Agronomic Traits Enhancement. Plants 2019, 8, 170.

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