The micro RNA 2111 (miR2111) identified by the research group is mainly produced in leaves, and travels through the phloem to roots where it specifically downregulates the abundance of TML messenger RNA rendering roots susceptible to bacterial entry. Within two days upon infection, miR2111 flow stops, and autoregulation sets in to balance symbiosis to a beneficial level.
Apart from re-shaping our understanding of symbiotic autoregulation, the new results demonstrate that micro RNAs can act as specific mobile messengers that enable communication between shoots and roots in plants. This grants an exciting insight into how plants act as entire body-units, bridging organ boundaries to coordinate responses to environmental cues. In the long term, these results can be used to fine-tune the communication between legume shoots and roots to optimise nitrogen fixation under adverse environmental conditions.
Interesting new research showing how microRNA can be used for intraorganismal communication.