The liverwort Marchantia polymorpha occupies an important phylogenetic position for comparative studies of land plant gene regulation. Multiple gene regulatory pathways mediated by small RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs), trans-acting short-interfering RNAs, and heterochromatic siRNAs often associated with RNA-dependent DNA methylation, have been characterized in flowering plants. Genes for essential components for all of these small RNA-mediated gene silencing pathways are found in M. polymorpha as well as the moss Phsycomitrella patens, indicating that these pathways existed in the ancestral land plant. However, only seven miRNAs are conserved across land plants, with both ancestral and novel targets identified in M. polymorpha. There is little or no evidence that any of these conserved miRNAs are present in algae. As with other plants investigated, most miRNAs in M. polypmorpha exhibit lineage-specific evolution. Application of artificial miRNA and CRISPR-Cas9 technologies in genetic studies of M. polymorpha provide avenues to further investigate miRNA biology.
- Marchantia polymorpha
- omics approach