Knockdown of microRNA390 Enhances Maize Brace Root Growth

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Brace root architecture is a critical determinant of maize's stalk anchorage and nutrition uptake, influencing root lodging resistance, stress tolerance, and plant growth. To identify the key microRNAs (miRNAs) in control of maize brace root growth, we performed small RNA sequencing using brace root samples at emergence and growth stages. We focused on the genetic modulation of brace root development in maize through manipulation of miR390 and its downstream regulated (). In the present study, miR167, miR166, miR172, and miR390 were identified to be involved in maize brace root growth in inbred line B73. Utilizing short tandem target mimic (STTM) technology, we further developed maize lines with reduced miR390 expression and analyzed their root architecture compared to wild-type controls. Our findings show that maize lines exhibit enhanced brace root length and increased whorl numbers. Gene expression analyses revealed that the suppression of miR390 leads to upregulation of its downstream regulated ARF genes, specifically and , which may significantly alter root architecture. Additionally, loss-of-function mutants for and were characterized to further confirm the role of these genes in brace root growth. These results demonstrate that miR390, and play crucial roles in regulating maize brace root growth the involved complicated molecular mechanisms need to be further explored. This study provides a genetic basis for breeding maize varieties with improved lodging resistance and adaptability to diverse agricultural environments.

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International journal of molecular sciences