microRNAs and siRNAs Regulations in Plant Development

Rosettes (top) and inflorescences (bottom) of Col-0 wild-type plants, of dcl1-9 mutants which are affected in the biogenesis of canonical microRNAs and of hen1-5 mutants which are affected in the turn-over of microRNAs and other small RNAs.

Project team leader: Dr. F. Vazquez
Project member: Dr. D. Windels

RNA silencing processes are recently discovered RNA dependent processes involved in controlling the expression and integrity of eukaryotic genomes. It includes major mechanisms that coordinate development, responses to biotic stresses, defence against pathogens or, that control genome stability. Small RNAs (e.g. microRNAs, siRNAs or piRNAs), 19-40 nucleotides in length, are the core component of these processes. They carry sequence-specificity for function of effectors. Several proteins involved in these processes have been identified. However, little is known about how these processes are themselves regulated in time, in space or in response to developmental and environmental signals.

The general aim of our research is to gain insight into this layer of regulation. Our genetic and molecular work uses a well-characterized Arabidopsis RNA silencing pathway with functions in hormonal and developmental regulation to elucidate general principles underlying the regulation of RNA silencing.

These studies might reveal general principles for regulation of RNA Silencing that might apply more generally to epigenetic regulation in
other eukaryotes including mammals.

Research topics:

·      Biogenesis and Function of miRNAs and siRNAs
·      Regulation of Gene Expression
·      Plant Development and Patterning       


·      Small RNAs and Plant-Pathogen interaction
·      RNA interference and Gene Silencing Strategies
·      Small RNA regulations