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The role of small RNAs in response of maritime pine to drought stress (PineWS-miRNA-vs-Gene)
Start date: Oct 1, 2015, End date: Sep 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Since small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) were discovered researchers have been rethinking the “central dogma of molecular biology”. Two types of these small molecules, microRNA (miRNA) and small interfering RNA (siRNA), have been highlighted as critical mediators of biological processes along the different species carrying out their functions though a complex post-transcriptional regulation. In plants, small ncRNAs regulate the expression of genes playing diverse roles, among others those genes involved in abiotic stress responses. Some results have shown that the differential regulation of miRNAs in different tissues is important for adaptation to stress and tree-specific processes. In spite of the importance in regulation of molecular response to stress, the information on gymnosperms miRNAs is scarce.The aim of the present proposal is the identification of novel and conserved small ncRNAs in Pinus pinaster which are involved in drought stress response as well as predicting the specific target genes controlled by these molecules. The study of post-trascriptional regulation carried out by small RNAs represents a novel and exciting field, really unexplored in conifers to date.The development of PineWS-miRNA-vs-Gene will be carried out at iBET supervised for Dr. Célia Miguel who has relevant experience in the research area proposed. Under her supervision and integrated in a high excellence research centre, I will learn interesting and novel lab and bioinformatics tools as well as other additional skills such as better communication in other languages or planning and management of research project, strictly necessary skills to achieve a leadership profile.This project will undoubtedly enhance ERA excellence by promoting novel approaches for facing the expected increased severity of climate change. The expected results could advance knowledge in an innovative field in plant sciences and could help to open new research lines or develop interesting biotechnological tools.

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