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Title (Primary) Phylogenetic distribution of plant snoRNA families
Author Bhattacharya, D.P.; Canzler, S.; Kehr, S.; Hertel, J.; Grosse, I.; Stadler, P.F.
Journal BMC Genomics
Year 2016
Department MOLSYB
Volume 17
Page From art. 969
Language englisch
Keywords snoRNAs – Evolution – Small RNAs – snoRNA targets
UFZ wide themes RU3;


Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are one of the most ancient families amongst non-protein-coding RNAs. They are ubiquitous in Archaea and Eukarya but absent in bacteria. Their main function is to target chemical modifications of ribosomal RNAs. They fall into two classes, box C/D snoRNAs and box H/ACA snoRNAs, which are clearly distinguished by conserved sequence motifs and the type of chemical modification that they govern. Similarly to microRNAs, snoRNAs appear in distinct families of homologs that affect homologous targets. In animals, snoRNAs and their evolution have been studied in much detail. In plants, however, their evolution has attracted comparably little attention.


In order to chart the phylogenetic distribution of individual snoRNA families in plants, we applied a sophisticated approach for identifying homologs of known plant snoRNAs across the plant kingdom. In response to the relatively fast evolution of snoRNAs, information on conserved sequence boxes, target sequences, and secondary structure is combined to identify additional snoRNAs. We identified 296 families of snoRNAs in 24 species and traced their evolution throughout the plant kingdom. Many of the plant snoRNA families comprise paralogs. We also found that targets are well-conserved for most snoRNA families.


The sequence conservation of snoRNAs is sufficient to establish homologies between phyla. The degree of this conservation tapers off, however, between land plants and algae. Plant snoRNAs are frequently organized in highly conserved spatial clusters. As a resource for further investigations we provide carefully curated and annotated alignments for each snoRNA family under investigation.

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Bhattacharya, D.P., Canzler, S., Kehr, S., Hertel, J., Grosse, I., Stadler, P.F. (2016):
Phylogenetic distribution of plant snoRNA families
BMC Genomics 17 , art. 969