RC Martin1 PP Liu2 and H Nonogaki2

1US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), National Forage Seed Production Research Center (NFSPRC), 3450 sw Campus Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA; 2Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

microRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulatory molecules that play critical roles in gene expression. The biological functions of miRNAs are important for developmental processes in plants and animals. Little is known about the functions of miRNAs in seeds. To gain a better understanding of the regulation of gene expression in seeds, it is necessary to characterize gene regulation by miRNAs, which are known to play significant roles in other plant organs and tissues. A simple method for isolating small RNAs from seeds and a non-radioactive detection system for seed-expressed miRNAs have been established earlier. In this study the established seed miRNA detection techniques, as well as a new method to isolate developing Arabidopsis tha&ana (L.) Heynh. seeds from siliquae for miRNA analysis, are introduced. The information on miRNAs expressed in Arabidopsis and Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. and their target genes is also updated.

microRNAs (miRNAs), small ~21 nucleotide regulatory molecules, were first discovered during developmental studies on Caenorhabditis elegans (Maupas) Dougherty and were found to be important in regulating the timing of larval development (Lee et al., 1993). Recently there has been an explosion in research related to miRNAs. They have been found to be important in the regulation of developmental processes in a wide variety of animals and plants (reviewed by Ambros, 2004; Kidner and Martienssen, 2005). miRNAs are involved in diverse processes such as glucose-mediated insulin secretion (Poy et al., 2004), brain morphogenesis (Giraldez et al., 2005), cancer (Calin et al., 2004; Gregory and Shiekhattar, 2005), as well as plant responses to dehydration, salinity, cold, gibberellic acid (GA) and abscisic acid (ABA) (Achard et al., 2004; Sunkar and Zhu, 2004).

Interestingly, some of the plant miRNA regulatory pathways have been conserved between species as diverse as rice (Oryza sativa L.), Arabidopsis thaliana (L.)

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