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Lu Zhang, You-biao Hu, Hua-sen Wang, Sheng-jun Feng, and Yu-ting Zhang

Plant growth and development are determined by complex exogenous and endogenous cues. A plant follows several temporally distinct developmental stages, including embryonic, vegetative, and reproductive. The vegetative stage, which is usually the longest stage, can be subdivided into juvenile and adult phases. The transition from the juvenile to the adult phase, also called the vegetative phase change, is characterized by anatomical, morphological, and physiological changes in the vegetative parts of the shoot. Recent studies in several systems have identified the genetic temporal mechanisms of this process, which is regulated by an endogenous age cue (i.e., microRNA156/157) and its targeted genes (i.e., Squamosa promoter binding protein-box transcription factors). This review summarizes the recent advances in the study of the underlying regulatory mechanisms of vegetative phase change. This review also describes the modes of miRNA action and the functions of their targeted genes in this highly conserved developmental process.