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      Starch bioengineering affects cereal grain germination and seedling establishment

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          Grain starch phosphorylation and amylose content affect germination and seedling establishment through the combination of direct effects on altered starch granule and molecular structure and indirect effects on amylase activities.


          Cereal grain germination is central for plant early development, and efficient germination has a major role in crop propagation and malting. Endosperm starch is the prime energy reserve in germination and seedling establishment. In this study, it was hypothesized that optimized starch granule structure, and not only the endosperm starch content per se, is important for germination and seedling establishment. For that purpose, wild-type (WT), and specifically engineered degradable hyperphosphorylated (HP) starch and more resistant amylose-only (AO) starch barley lines were used. The transgenics showed no severe phenotypes and the WT and HP lines degraded the starch similarly, having 30% residual starch after 12 d of germination. However, the AO line showed significant resistance to degradation, having 57% residual starch. Interestingly, protein and β-glucan (BG) degradation was stimulated for both HP and AO lines as compared with the WT. At late seedling establishment stages, specific sugars were rapidly consumed in the AO line. α-Amylase activity was distinctly suppressed in both the HP and the AO lines. Pre-germination β-amylase deposition was low in the AO grains and β-amylase was generally suppressed in both HP and AO lines throughout germination. As further supported by scanning electron microscopy and histochemical analyses on grain and seedlings, it was concluded that inadequate starch granule deposition in combination with the suppressed hydrolase activity leads to temporal and compensating re-direction of starch, sugar, and protein catabolism important to maintain metabolic dynamics during grain germination and seedling establishment.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Seed Germination and Dormancy.

           J Bewley (1997)
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            Classification and measurement of nutritionally important starch fractions.

            For nutritional purposes, starch in foods may be classified into rapidly digestible starch (RDS), slowly digestible starch (SDS) and resistant starch (RS). RS may be further divided into three categories according to the reason for resistance to digestion. A method is reported for the measurement of total starch, RDS, SDS, RS and three RS fractions in starchy foods, using controlled enzymic hydrolysis with pancreatin and amyloglucosidase. The released glucose is measured by colorimetry, using a glucose oxidase kit. Values for RDS and SDS in foods obtained by the method reflect the rate of starch digestion in vivo. Values for RS are similar to the amounts of starch escaping digestion in the small intestine of ileostomates, and are a guide to the amounts of starch likely to enter the colon for fermentation. Results are given for a number of starchy foods.
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              Barley grain maturation and germination: metabolic pathway and regulatory network commonalities and differences highlighted by new MapMan/PageMan profiling tools.

              Plant seeds prepare for germination already during seed maturation. We performed a detailed transcriptome analysis of barley (Hordeum vulgare) grain maturation, desiccation, and germination in two tissue fractions (starchy endosperm/aleurone and embryo/scutellum) using the Affymetrix Barley1 GeneChip. To aid data evaluation, Arabidopsis thaliana MapMan and PageMan tools were adapted to barley. The analyses allow a number of conclusions: (1) Cluster analysis revealed a smooth transition in transcription programs between late seed maturation and germination within embryo tissues, but not in the endosperm/aleurone. (2) More than 12,000 transcripts are stored in the embryo of dry barley grains, many of which are presumably activated during germination. (3) Transcriptional activation of storage reserve mobilization events occurs at an early stage of germination, well before radicle protrusion. (4) Key genes of gibberellin (GA) biosynthesis are already active during grain maturation at a time when abscisic acid peaks suggesting the formation of an endogenous store of GA in the aleurone. This GA probably acts later during germination in addition to newly synthesized GA. (5) Beside the well-known role of GA in gene activation during germination spatiotemporal expression data and cis-element searches in homologous rice promoters confirm an equally important gene-activating role of abscisic acid during this developmental period. The respective regulatory webs are linked to auxin and ethylene controlled networks. In summary, new bioinformatics PageMan and MapMan tools developed in barley have been successfully used to investigate in detail the transcriptome relationships between seed maturation and germination in an important crop plant.

                Author and article information

                J Exp Bot
                J. Exp. Bot
                Journal of Experimental Botany
                Oxford University Press (UK )
                June 2014
                18 March 2014
                18 March 2014
                : 65
                : 9
                : 2257-2270
                1Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen , Thorvaldsensvej 40, 1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
                2Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University , Forsøgsvej 1, 4200 Slagelse, Denmark
                © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Pages: 14
                Research Paper

                Plant science & Botany

                amylase, barley, cereal, germination, grain, starch.


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