Developing molecular tools for functional analysis of microRNA-mediated gene silencing

MicroRNAs are non-coding RNAs that control key traits in animals and plants. This project aims to develop and utilize molecular tools for understanding their function.

Mediators of gene silencing pathways, microRNA (miRNA) populations have now been extensively characterised and implicated in numerous fundamental processes. Numerous transgenic approaches have been developed for inhibiting their function, however we have recently shown that their efficacy against target miRNA is highly variable. This project aims to identify understand the factors underlying this variability in a bid to be able to develop a genetic tool that can reliably inhibit the miRNA of interest. Such tools will be necessary to understand the true scope of miRNA function in plants, and could be potentially used in biotechnology for manipulating miRNA pathways that control important agronomic traits.

Related Lab Publications

Reichel M and Millar AA (2015) Specificity of plant microRNA target MIMICs: Cross-targeting of miR159 and miR319. Journal of Plant Physiology 180, 45-48.

Reichel M, Li Y, Li J and Millar AA (2015) Inhibiting plant microRNA activity: molecular SPONGEs, target MIMICs and STTMs all display variable efficacies against target microRNAs. Plant Biotechnology Journal (in press)