New technologies accelerate the exploration of non-coding RNAs in horticultural plants.

Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), that is, RNAs not translated into proteins, are crucial regulators of a variety of biological processes in plants. While protein-encoding genes have been relatively well-annotated in sequenced genomes, accounting for a small portion of the genome space in plants, the universe of plant ncRNAs is rapidly expanding. Recent advances in experimental and computational technologies have generated a great momentum for discovery and functional characterization of ncRNAs. Here we summarize the classification and known biological functions of plant ncRNAs, review the application of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology and ribosome profiling technology to ncRNA discovery in horticultural plants and discuss the application of new technologies, especially the new genome-editing tool clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) systems, to functional characterization of plant ncRNAs.

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