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Grafting is an ancient method that has been intensively used for the clonal propagation of vegetables and woody trees. Despite its importance in agriculture the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying phenotypic changes of plants following grafting are still poorly understood. In the present study, we analyse the populations of small RNAs in homo and heterografts and take advantage of the sequence differences in the genomes of heterograft partners to analyse the possible exchange of small RNAs. We demonstrate that the type of grafting per se dramatically influences the small RNA populations independently of genotypes but also show genotype specific effects. In addition, we demonstrate that bilateral exchanges of small RNAs, mainly short interfering RNAs, may occur in heterograft with the preferential transfer of small RNAs from the scion to the rootstock. Altogether, the results suggest that small RNAs may have an important role in the phenotype modifications observed in heterografts.
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Date: 19th April 2020
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