Plant small RNAs (sRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that are implicated in various regulatory processes involving post-transcriptional gene silencing and epigenetic gene regulation. In epigenetic regulation, sRNAs are primarily involved in RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathways. sRNAs in the RdDM pathways play a role not only in the suppression of transposable element (TE) activity but also in gene expression regulation. Although the major components of the RdDM pathways have been well studied in Arabidopsis, recent studies have revealed that the RdDM pathways in rice have important biological functions in stress response and developmental processes. In this review, we summarize and discuss recent literature on sRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation in rice. First, we describe the RdDM mechanisms in plants. We then introduce recent discoveries on the biological roles of rice genes involved in the RdDM pathway and TE-derived sRNAs working at specific genomic loci for epigenetic control in rice.

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