Blake C. Meyers, Ph.D.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Honorary Adjunct Professor

Plant and Microbial Biosciences Program
Computational and Systems Biology Program
Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program

  • (314) 587-1422

  • 1137

  • Donald Danforth Plant Science Center



  • The function, biogenesis & evolution of small RNAs in plants

Research Abstract:

The primary focus of the Meyers lab is the biology of small RNAs in plants, including their diverse functions, biogenesis, and evolution. With our many collaborators, we have pioneered genomic analysis of small RNAs and their targets, working with "next-gen" sequencing technologies nearly since their invention. Our early work with next-gen sequencing led to the development of informatics and analysis tools that we used to characterize small RNA pathways in Arabidopsis, rice, maize and other plants. The lab continued to develop mRNA and small RNA analyses using different types of next-gen sequencing. With collaborator Pam Green, we co-developed "PARE" for the genome-wide analysis of cleaved mRNAs (PARE = Parallel Analysis of RNA Ends). The Meyers lab has widely applied these methods to study plant genomes and their RNA products..

Specific areas of research include microRNAs, heterochromatic siRNAs and the connection to DNA methylation, microRNA targets, non-coding RNAs, and gene silencing. A current emphasis of our work is phased, secondary siRNAs in plants (aka "phasiRNAs"), including their roles in post-transcriptional control of diverse protein-coding genes, and in reproductive biology, mainly in anthers. In the grasses, two classes of phasiRNAs are transiently abundant during anther development, at the premeiotic and meiotic stages. The roles of these small RNAs are poorly characterized, and many of our current experiments focus on these molecules.

We also continue to study disease resistance genes in plants, name the NLR or "NB-LRR" genes that provide the first line of defense in many specific plant-pathogen interactions. These genes are targets of an unusually diverse set of microRNAs, triggering phasiRNAs, and providing an excellent case study for post-transcriptional control and its evolution in plants.

Selected Publications:

Kakrana A., Mathioni SM, Huang K, Hammond R, Vandivier L, Patel P, Arikit S, Shevchenko O, Harkess AE, Kingham B, Gregory BD, Leebens-Mack JH, Meyers BC. (2018) Plant 24-nt reproductive phasiRNAs from intramolecular duplex mRNAs in diverse monocots. Genome Research, in press. doi: 10.1101/gr.228163.117.

Fei Q, Yu Y, Liu L, Zhang Y, Baldrich P, Chen X, & Meyers BC. (2018) Biogenesis of a young, 22-nt microRNA in Phaseoleae species by precursor-programmed uridylation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, in press. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1807403115.

Axtell MJ, Meyers BC. (2018) Revisiting criteria for plant miRNA annotation in the era of big data. The Plant Cell, 30:272-284. doi: 10.1105/tpc.17.00851

Sidorenko LV, Lee TF, Woosley A, Moskal WA, Bevan SA, Owens Merlo PA, Walsh TA, Wang X, Weaver S, Glancy T, Wang P, Yang X, Sriram S & Meyers BC. (2017) GC-rich coding sequences reduce transposon-like, small RNA-mediated transgene silencing. Nature Plants, 3:875-884. doi: 10.1038/s41477-017-0040-6

Zhang Y, Xia R, Kuang H, & Meyers BC (2016). The diversification of plant NBS-LRR defense genes directs the evolution of microRNAs that target them. Mol Biol Evol, 33: 2692-2705. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw154

Xia, R., Xu, J., and B.C. Meyers. (2015) Extensive families of miRNAs and PHAS loci in Norway spruce demonstrate the origins of complex phasiRNA networks in seed plants. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 32:2905-2918. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msv164

Fei, Q., Li, P., Teng, C., and B.C. Meyers. (2015) Secondary siRNAs from Medicago NB-LRRs modulated via miRNA-target interactions and their abundances. The Plant Journal. 83: 451-465. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12900

Zhai, J., H. Zhang, S. Arikit, K. Huang, G.L. Nan, V. Walbot, and B.C. Meyers. (2015). Spatiotemporally dynamic, cell-type dependent premeiotic and meiotic phasiRNAs in maize anthers. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (PNAS). 112: 3146-3151. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1418918112

Arikit, S., Xia, R., Kakrana, A., Huang, K., Zhai, J., Yan, Z., Valdés-López, O., Prince, S., Musket, T.A., Nguyen, H.T., Stacey, G., and B.C. Meyers. (2014) An atlas of soybean small RNAs demonstrates regulation by phased siRNAs from hundreds of coding genes. Plant Cell. 26: 4584-4601. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.131847

Kakrana, A., Hammond, R., Patel, P., Nakano, M., and B.C. Meyers. (2014) sPARTA: A parallelized pipeline for integrated analysis of plant miRNA and cleaved mRNA data sets, including new miRNA target-identification software. Nucleic Acids Research. 42:e139 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gku693

Last Updated: 7/25/2018 8:14:20 AM

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