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


  • Analysis of small RNAs in plants

Research Abstract:

The primary emphasis of the Meyers lab is the analysis of small RNAs in plants. 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 work with next-gen sequencing stretches back to ~2001, when Blake first utilized "MPSS" for the analysis of gene expression in Arabidopsis. This led to the development in the Meyers lab of the first publicly-accessible browser for next-gen data. 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, and the lab continues to develop and apply novel informatics approaches for the analysis of RNA function in plants.

Specific areas of research include the use of these technologies to assess small RNA function and biogenesis in a broad range of plants, including Arabidopsis, maize, soybean, rice, and diverse other species. These data are being used to identify novel transcripts, to study small RNAs, microRNA targets, alternatively-polyadenylated transcripts, non-coding RNAs and gene silencing. We currently study phased secondary siRNAs in plants, including their function, evolution, and biogenesis. We have also created query & analysis tools for small RNA data.

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:

Zhang, Y., Xia, R., Kuang, H., and B.C. Meyers. (2016) The diversification of plant NBS-LRR defense genes directs the evolution of microRNAs that target them. Molecular Biology and Evolution. In press. 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: 8/15/2016 1:03:12 PM

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