MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, endogenous, noncoding RNAs that negatively modulate the expression of genes by inhibiting translation or by promoting the degradation of target mRNAs. miRNAs are now known to have greatly expanded roles in a variety of plant developmental processes, in signal transduction, and in the response to environmental stress and pathogen invasion. Because of their ability to inactivate either specific genes or entire gene families, artificial miRNAs function as dominant suppressors of gene activity when brought into a plant. Consequently, miRNA-based manipulations have emerged as promising new approaches for the improvement of crops. This includes the development of breeding strategies and the genetic modification of agronomic traits. Herein, we highlight new findings regarding the roles of miRNAs in plant traits, and describe the current miRNA-based plant engineering approaches. Finally, we consider the feasibility of modulating current approaches to address future challenges such as breeding programs to increase crop yield.
Biotechnology Advances – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2010
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