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Review Article|17 Sep 2018|OPEN
Small RNAs, emerging regulators critical for the development of horticultural traits
Chengjie Chen1,2,3, Zaohai Zeng1,2,3, Zongrang Liu4 & Rui Xia1,2,3,
1State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical AgroBioresources, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
2Key Laboratory of Biology and Germplasm Enhancement of Horticultural Crops in South China, Ministry of Agriculture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
3Guangdong Litchi Engineering Research Center, College of Horticulture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
4Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Kearneysville, WV 25430, USA

Horticulture Research 5,
Article number: 63 (2018)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2018.63
Views: 610

Received: 18 Mar 2018
Revised: 23 Jun 2018
Accepted: 01 Jul 2018
Published online: 17 Sep 2018


Small RNAs (sRNAs) have been recently recognized as key genetic and epigenetic regulators in various organisms, ranging from the modification of DNA and histone methylations to the modulation of the abundance of coding or non-coding RNAs. In plants, major regulatory sRNAs are classified as respective microRNA (miRNA) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) species, with the former primarily engaging in posttranscriptional regulation while the latter in transcriptional one. Many of these characterized sRNAs are involved in regulation of diverse biological programs, processes, and pathways in response to developmental cues, environmental signals/stresses, pathogen infection, and pest attacks. Recently, sRNAs-mediated regulations have also been extensively investigated in horticultural plants, with many novel mechanisms unveiled, which display far more mechanistic complexity and unique regulatory features compared to those studied in model species. Here, we review the recent progress of sRNA research in horticultural plants, with emphasis on mechanistic aspects as well as their relevance to trait regulation. Given that major and pioneered sRNA research has been carried out in the model and other plants, we also discuss ongoing sRNA research on these plants. Because miRNAs and phased siRNAs (phasiRNAs) are the most studied sRNA regulators, this review focuses on their biogenesis, conservation, function, and targeted genes and traits as well as the mechanistic relation between them, aiming at providing readers comprehensive information instrumental for future sRNA research in horticulture crops.