microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), which constitute two major classes of endogenous small RNAs in plants, impact a multitude of developmental and physiological processes by imparting sequence specificity to gene and genome regulation. Although lacking the third major class of small RNAs found in animals, Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), plants have expanded their repertoire of endogenous siRNAs, some of which fulfill similar molecular and developmental functions as piRNAs in animals. Research on plant miRNAs and siRNAs has contributed invaluable insights into small RNA biology, thanks to the highly conserved molecular logic behind the biogenesis and actions of small RNAs. Here, I review progress in the plant small RNA field in the past two years, with an emphasis on recent findings related to plant development. I do not recount the numerous developmental processes regulated by small RNAs; instead, I focus on major principles that have been derived from recent studies and draw parallels, when applicable, between plants and animals.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.