Regulatory small RNAs are well known as antiviral agents, regulators of gene expression, and defenders of genome integrity in plants. Several studies over the last decade have also shown that some small RNAs are exchanged between plants and their pathogens and parasites. Naturally occurring trans-species small RNAs are used by host plants to silence mRNAs in pathogens. These gene-silencing events are thought to be detrimental to the pathogen and beneficial to the host. Conversely, trans-species small RNAs from pathogens and parasites are deployed to silence host mRNAs; these events are thought to be beneficial for the pests. The natural ability of plants to exchange small RNAs with invading eukaryotic organisms can be exploited to provide disease resistance. This review gives an overview of the current state of trans-species small RNA research in plants and discusses several outstanding questions for future research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science