2017 Charles Albert Shull Award Recipient | Non-coding RNA in plants: the long and the short of it

Saturday, July 14
4:15 PM - 4:40 PM

Plant genomes generate innumerable small RNAs, the majority of which are products of non-coding RNAs processed by Dicers. For example, 21 or 22-nt microRNAs (“miRNAs”) are produced from fold-back, non-coding mRNA precursors. Phased “secondary” siRNAs (phasiRNAs) are generated from mRNAs targeted by a typically 22-nt “trigger” miRNA, with the phasiRNAs produced as either 21- or 24-nt small RNAs via genetically separable pathways. Work in monocot anthers has demonstrated the temporal and spatial distribution of two sets of “reproductive phasiRNAs”. These molecules are extraordinarily enriched in the male germline of the many angiosperms, yet their functions are not well characterized. Both reproductive phasiRNA classes are produced from generally long, non-coding mRNAs, and are generated from hundreds to thousands of loci, depending on the species. The prototypical phasiRNA locus is TRANS-ACTING SIRNA 3 (TAS3), one of few long, non-coding RNAs that is conserved back to the emergence of land plants. The work of my lab is focused on understanding the diverse functions, evolution, and biogenesis of plant small RNAs, their RNA precursors and their targets.

Blake C. Meyers

Professor, Division of Plant Sciences
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Blake Meyers is a Member & Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, and he is a Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri - Columbia. He formerly held the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg professorship in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware, where his research group was from 2002 to 2015. His research emphasizes novel approaches and applications of bioinformatics and next-generation sequencing to plant genomics, with an emphasis on understanding the biological functions and genomic impact of small RNAs, DNA methylation, and gene expression. These studies take place in maize, rice, Arabidopsis, soybean, Medicago, and other species. The Meyers lab has pioneered and co-developed a number of sequencing based applications, widely applied to study plant genomes and their RNA products, particularly small RNAs, and the lab continues to develop and apply novel informatics and experimental approaches for the analysis of RNAs and their functions, primarily in plants.

Phased, secondary, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) are of particular interest to the Meyers lab. Originally designated as trans-acting small interfering RNAs or tasiRNAs, the wider group of phasiRNAs are triggered by microRNAs and produced as siRNAs. Like microRNAs, phasiRNA function in the suppression of target transcript levels. Data from a broad range of species have demonstrated that the count of phasiRNA generating-loci ranges from tens (Arabidopsis) to hundreds (Medicago, soybean, maize) to thousands (rice). In the dicots, phasiRNA sources and targets include several large or conserved families of genes, such as those encoding NB-LRR disease resistance proteins or transcription factors. In some plants, NB-LRRs have a particularly high level of redundancy in miRNA and phasiRNA-mediated regulation. In the grasses, phasiRNAs from non-coding RNAs are prevalent in anthers, during early development and meiosis.


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2017 Charles Albert Shull Award Recipient | Non-coding RNA in plants: the long and the short of it

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Send Email for 2017 Charles Albert Shull Award Recipient | Non-coding RNA in plants: the long and the short of it