W082 Small RNAs in Sorghum and Switchgrass

Date: Saturday, January 14, 2012
Time: 5:20 PM
Room: Pacific Salon 2
Ramanjulu Sunkar , Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Switchgrass and Sorghum have emerged as major bioenergy plant species in the US. These plant species are also able to grow on marginal soils and tolerate frequent drought and heat episodes. However, little is known about the basic biology of the traits that contribute for their biomass production or stress tolerance in these plant species. Recently discovered genome-encoded 21 nt microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as critical regulators of gene expression important both for biomass accumulation and adaptation to environmental stresses. To gain an insight into miRNA networks that control these traits in switchgrass and sorghum, several small RNA libraries were generated and sequenced. Sequence analyses revealed the identification of ~25 conserved miRNA families. Most importantly, several novel species-specific miRNAs have been identified. Manipulation of one of these miRNAs has lead to increase in biomass accumulation in transgenic plants. Besides, we also have profiled the miRNAs in plants exposed to drought and heat stress. These recent findings will be discussed.