The pivotal role of small non-coding RNAs in the regulation of seed development
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Seeds represent a crucial stage of the seed plants life cycle. It is during seed development that the foundations of the future plant body, and the ability to give rise to a new plant capable of growing under sometimes adverse environmental conditions, are established. Small non-coding RNAs are major regulators of gene expression both at the post-transcriptional and transcriptional levels and, not surprisingly, these elements play major roles in seed development and germination. We review here the current knowledge about small RNA expression and functions in seed development, going from the morphogenesis phase comprehending embryo development and patterning, to the several steps of the maturation phase, ending in the transition to the germination. A special focus is given to the small RNAs for which functional studies have been conducted and their participation in regulatory networks operating in seeds. Many challenges remain ahead for dissecting the complex small RNA landscape in seeds, but this is a highly relevant issue in plant biology and advances in this area will most certainly impact plant breeding.
KeywordsSmall RNA profiling Functional characterization Seed development Embryogenesis Regulatory networks
Author contribution statement
Both authors contributed equally for the structuring and writing of this review.
This work was supported through projects funded by (1) the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7, Grant Agreement No 289841-PROCOGEN), and (2) Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), through Grants GREEN-it (UID/Multi/04551/2013), IF/01168/2013 and the doctoral fellowship SFRH/BD/79779/2011 (to ASR).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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