Journal Article

The Effect of Temperature Shock and Grain Morphology on Alpha-amylase in Developing Wheat Grain

A. D. Farrell and P. S. Kettlewell

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 2, pages 287-293
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn091
The Effect of Temperature Shock and Grain Morphology on Alpha-amylase in Developing Wheat Grain

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

The premature production of alpha-amylase without visible germination has been observed in developing grain of many cereals. The phenomenon is associated with cool temperatures in the late stages of grain growth but the mechanisms behind it are largely unknown. The aim of this study was to replicate the phenomenon under controlled conditions and investigate the possibility of a mechanistic link with grain size or endosperm cavity size.

Methods

Five wheat (Triticum aestivum) genotypes differing in their susceptibility to premature alpha-amylase were subjected to a range of temperature shocks in controlled environments. A comparison was then made with plants grown under ambient conditions but with grain size altered by using degraining to increase the assimilate supply. At maturity, alpha-amylase, grain area and endosperm cavity area were measured in individual grains.

Key Results

Both cold and heat shocks were successful in inducing premature alpha-amylase in susceptible genotypes, with cold shocks the most effective. Cold shocks also increased grain area. Degraining resulted in increased grain area overall, but the larger grain did not have higher alpha-amylase. Analysis of individual grain found that instances of high alpha-amylase were not associated with differences in grain area or endosperm cavity area.

Conclusions

Pre-maturity alpha-amylase is associated with temperature shocks during grain filling. In some cases this coincides with an increase in grain area, but there is no evidence of a mechanistic link between high alpha-amylase and grain or endosperm cavity area.

Keywords: Alpha-amylase; pre-maturity alpha-amylase; late maturity alpha amylase; temperature; grain size; endosperm cavity; wheat; Triticum aestivum

Journal Article.  4110 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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