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  1. Abstract Plant microRNAs (miRNAs) are short, noncoding RNA molecules that restrict gene expression via posttranscriptional regulation and function in several essential pathways, including development, growth, and stress responses. Accurately identifying miRNAs in populations of small RNA sequencing libraries is a computationally intensive process that has resulted in the misidentification of inaccurately annotated miRNA sequences. In recent years, criteria for miRNA annotation have been refined with the aim to reduce these misannotations. Here, we describe miRador, a miRNA identification tool that utilizes the most up-to-date, community-established criteria for accurate identification of miRNAs in plants. We combined target prediction and Parallel Analysis of RNA Ends (PARE) data to assess the precision of the miRNAs identified by miRador. We compared miRador to other commonly used miRNA prediction tools and found that miRador is at least as precise as other prediction tools while being substantially faster than other tools. miRador should be broadly useful for the plant community to identify and annotate miRNAs in plant genomes.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 28, 2023
  2. Abstract In monocots other than maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa), the repertoire and diversity of microRNAs (miRNAs) and the populations of phased, secondary, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) are poorly characterized. To remedy this, we sequenced small RNAs (sRNA) from vegetative and dissected inflorescence tissue in 28 phylogenetically diverse monocots and from several early-diverging angiosperm lineages, as well as publicly available data from 10 additional monocot species. We annotated miRNAs, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and phasiRNAs across the monocot phylogeny, identifying miRNAs apparently lost or gained in the grasses relative to other monocot families, as well as a number of transfer RNA fragments misannotated as miRNAs. Using our miRNA database cleaned of these misannotations, we identified conservation at the 8th, 9th, 19th, and 3′-end positions that we hypothesize are signatures of selection for processing, targeting, or Argonaute sorting. We show that 21-nucleotide (nt) reproductive phasiRNAs are far more numerous in grass genomes than other monocots. Based on sequenced monocot genomes and transcriptomes, DICER-LIKE5, important to 24-nt phasiRNA biogenesis, likely originated via gene duplication before the diversification of the grasses. This curated database of phylogenetically diverse monocot miRNAs, siRNAs, and phasiRNAs represents a large collection of data that should facilitatemore »continued exploration of sRNA diversification in flowering plants.« less
  3. Abstract

    Small RNAs play important roles during plant development by regulating transcript levels of target mRNAs, maintaining genome integrity, and reinforcing DNA methylation.Dicer-like 5(Dcl5) is proposed to be responsible for precise slicing in many monocots to generate diverse 24-nt phased, secondary small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs), which are exceptionally abundant in meiotic anthers of diverse flowering plants. The importance and functions of these phasiRNAs remain unclear. Here, we characterized several mutants ofdcl5, including alleles generated by the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)–Cas9system and a transposon-disrupted allele. We report thatdcl5mutants have few or no 24-nt phasiRNAs, develop short anthers with defective tapetal cells, and exhibit temperature-sensitive male fertility. We propose that DCL5 and 24-nt phasiRNAs are critical for fertility under growth regimes for optimal yield.