Fructan contents and dry matter deposition in different tissues of the wheat grain during development


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The role of fructan metabolism in the assimilate relations of the grain of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was investigated by determination of the dry matter and fructan content of grain components at short intervals during grain filling. During the initial phase of rapid expansion, most of the assimilates entering the grain were partitioned to the outer pericarp. A large fraction of these assimilates were used for the synthesis of fructan. Dry matter deposition and fructan synthesis in the outer pericarp ceased at about 5d after anthesis. At the same time, the endosperm and the inner pericarp and testa started to accumulate dry matter at a fast rate. This was also associated with significant fructan synthesis in the latter tissues. The outer pericarp lost about 45% of its former maximum dry weight between 9 and 19 d after anthesis. This loss was due almost entirely to the near complete disappearance of water‐soluble carbohydrates, most of which was fructan. The inner pericarp and testa accumulated dry matter until about mid‐grain filling. The fructan contents of the inner pericarp and testa and the endosperm decreased slowly towards the end of grain filling. Most of the fructans in the inner pericarp and testa and the endosperm had a low molecular weight, whereas higher molecular weight fructans predominated in the outer pericarp. The embryo did not contain fructan. The presence of low molecular weight fructans in the endosperm cavity at mid‐grain filling was confirmed. It is suggested that fructan synthesis is closely linked to growth‐related water deposition in the different tissues of the wheat grain and serves to sequester the surplus of imported sucrose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-187
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Gramineae
  • Triticum aestivum L.
  • carbohydrates
  • embryo
  • endosperm
  • endosperm cavity
  • fructan
  • grain (growth)
  • partitioning
  • pericarp
  • testa (seed coat)
  • wheat


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