Reasons for the variable amylose content of endosperm starch from waxy cultivars of barley (Hordeum vulgare) were investigated. The mature grains of most such cultivars contain some amylose, although amounts are much lower than in wild-type cultivars. In these low-amylose cultivars, amylose synthesis starts relatively late in grain development. Starch granules in the outer cell layers of the endosperm contain more amylose than those in the center. This distribution corresponds to that of granule-bound starch synthase I (GBSSI), which is more severely reduced in amount in the center of the endosperm than in the outer cell layers, relative to wild-type cultivars. A second GBSSI in the barley plant, GBSSIb, is not detectable in the endosperm and cannot account for amylose synthesis in the low-amylose cultivars. The change in the expression of GBSSI in the endosperm of the low-amylose cultivars appears to be due to a 413-bp deletion of part of the promoter and 5′-untranslated region of the gene. Although these cultivars are of diverse geographical origin, all carry this same deletion, suggesting that the low-amylose cultivars have a common waxy ancestor. Records suggest a probable source in China, first recorded in the 16th century. Two further families of waxy cultivars have no detectable amylose in the endosperm starch. These amylose-free cultivars were selected in the 20th century from chemically mutagenized populations of wild-type barley. In both cases, 1-bp alterations in the GBSSI gene completely eliminate GBSSI activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science