Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 84, Issue 1–2, pp 1–18 | Cite as

MicroRNA mediated regulation of metal toxicity in plants: present status and future perspectives

  • O. P. Gupta
  • P. Sharma
  • R. K. Gupta
  • I. Sharma


The human population is increasing at an alarming rate, whereas heavy metals (HMs) pollution is mounting serious environmental problem, which could lead to serious concern about the future sufficiency of global food production. Some HMs such as Mn, Cu, and Fe, at lower concentration serves as an essential vital component of plant cell as they are crucial in various enzyme catalyzed biochemical reactions. At higher concentration, a vast variety of HMs such as Mn, Cu, Cd, Fe, Hg, Al and As, impose toxic reaction in the plant system which greatly affect the crop yield. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) that are small class of non-coding riboregulator have emerged as central regulator of numerous abiotic stresses including HMs. Increasing reports indicate that plants have evolved specialized inbuilt mechanism viz. signal transduction, translocation and sequestration to counteract the toxic response of HMs. Combining computational and wet laboratory approaches have produced sufficient evidences concerning active involvement of miRNAs during HMs toxicity response by regulating various transcription factors and protein coding genes involved in plant growth and development. However, the direct role of miRNA in controlling various signaling molecules, transporters and chelating agents of HM metabolism is poorly understood. This review focuses on the latest progress made in the area of direct involvement of miRNAs in signaling, translocation and sequestration as well as recently added miRNAs in response to different HMs in plants.


miRNAs Heavy metals (HMs) Toxicity response Signal transduction Metal translocation Sequestration Transcription factor 



Authors thankfully acknowledge the financial aid from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Govt. of India for grant No. DWR/RP/10-5.3.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. P. Gupta
    • 1
  • P. Sharma
    • 2
  • R. K. Gupta
    • 1
  • I. Sharma
    • 3
  1. 1.Quality and Basic SciencesDirectorate of Wheat ResearchKarnalIndia
  2. 2.Plant BiotechnologyDirectorate of Wheat ResearchKarnalIndia
  3. 3.Plant ProtectionDirectorate of Wheat ResearchKarnalIndia

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