Role of small RNAs in epigenetic reprogramming during plant sexual reproduction

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2017 Apr;36:22-28. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2016.12.006. Epub 2017 Jan 11.


Sexual reproduction, the formation of a new individual from specialized reproductive cells after fertilization, involves the precise orchestration of different developmental and genomic processes. These processes are to a large extent governed by small RNAs (sRNAs) that either belong to the class of micro RNAs (miRNAs) or small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs). The latter are derived from transposable elements (TEs) and involved in genome defense and transgenerational inheritance of heterochromatin identity, ensuring genome stability. Remarkably, male and female gametophytes employ sRNAs to ensure reproductive success, but the underlying processes of their formation and action differ. Here, we review current advances in the field concerning the roles of sRNAs during flowering plant (angiosperm) reproduction and pinpoint where further research is required to solve open questions.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Embryonic Development
  • Gametogenesis, Plant*
  • Germ Cells, Plant / metabolism*
  • Magnoliopsida / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Interfering