Emerging Roles of microRNAs in Plant Heavy Metal Tolerance and Homeostasis

Yanfei Ding*, Lihong Ding, Yiji Xia, Feijuan Wang, Cheng Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Heavy metal stress is a major growth- and yield-limiting factor for plants. Heavy metals include essential metals (copper, iron, zinc, and manganese) and non-essential metals (cadmium, mercury, aluminum, arsenic, and lead). Plants use complex mechanisms of gene regulation under heavy metal stress. MicroRNAs are 21-nucleotide non-coding small RNAs as important modulators of gene expression post-transcriptionally. Recently, high-throughput sequencing has led to the identification of an increasing number of heavy-metal-responsive microRNAs in plants. Metal-regulated microRNAs and their target genes are part of a complex regulatory network that controls various biological processes, including heavy metal uptake and transport, protein folding and assembly, metal chelation, scavenging of reactive oxygen species, hormone signaling, and microRNA biogenesis. In this review, we summarize the recent molecular studies that identify heavy-metal-regulated microRNAs and their roles in the regulation of target genes as part of the microRNA-associated regulatory network in response to heavy metal stress in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1958-1965
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • gene regulation
  • heavy metal
  • microRNA
  • response
  • target
  • tolerance


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