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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Characterization of microRNAs expression during maize seed development

Mingming Kang, Qian Zhao, Dengyun Zhu and Jingjuan Yu*

Author affiliations

State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2012, 13:360  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-360

Published: 1 August 2012



MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are approximately 20-22 nt non-coding RNAs that play key roles in many biological processes in both animals and plants. Although a number of miRNAs were identified in maize, the function of miRNA in seed development was merely discussed.


In this study, two small RNA libraries were sequenced, and a total reads of 9,705,761 and 9,005,563 were generated from developing seeds and growing leaves, respectively. Further analysis identified 125 known miRNAs in seeds and 127 known miRNAs in leaves. 54 novel miRNAs were identified and they were not reported in other plants. Additionally, some miRNA*s of these novel miRNAs were detected. Potential targets of all novel miRNAs were predicted based on our strict criteria. In addition to deep-sequencing, miRNA microarray study confirmed the higher expression of several miRNAs in seeds. In summary, our results indicated the distinct expression of miRNAs during seed development.


We had identified 125 and 127 known miRNAs from seeds and leaves in maize, and a total of 54 novel miRNAs were discovered. The different miRNA expression profile in developing seeds were revealed by both sequencing and microarray studies.