Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Endosperm and starch granule morphology in wild cereal relatives

  • F. M. Shapter (a1), R. J. Henry (a1) and L. S. Lee (a1)

Australia's native grass species contain a diverse array of wild cereal relatives which are adapted to a broader range of environmental conditions than current commercial cereals and may contain novel alleles which have utility in commercial production systems. Characterizing the available variation in endosperm morphology is one of the first steps towards in planta manipulation of endosperm by either the introgression of novel alleles or bioengineering cereal starch and protein. The endosperm of 19 crop wild relatives (CWR) was examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Mature caryopses were fixed, dehydrated, critical-point dried and then snap fractured transversely through the grain. Wild relatives exhibited similar types of starch granules to that of their respective cultivated species, though in general the wild species retained a greater proportion of the endosperm cell wall at maturity. The two species examined with no closely related cultivated species exhibited a rice-like endosperm. Wild sorghum relatives exhibited an abundance of endosperm variations described as variations in starch granule size, shape and surface morphology, and the distribution of protein bodies. This is particularly important because the grain of Sorghum bicolor has inherently low starch and protein digestibility. These variations within the wild relatives of commercial cereals may provide novel sources of genetic diversity for future grain improvement programmes.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author. E-mail:
Hide All
Baldwin P (2001) Starch granule-associated proteins and polypeptides: a review. Starch-Starke 53: 475503.
Benmoussa M, Suhendra B, Aboubacar A and Hamaker BR (2006) Distinctive sorghum starch granule morphologies appear to improve raw starch digestibility. Starch-Starke 58: 9299.
Buleon A, Colonna P, Planchot V and Ball S (1998) Starch granules: structure and biosynthesis. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 23: 85112.
Bultosa G, Hall AN and Taylor JRN (2002) Physico-chemical characterization of grain tef Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter starch. Starch-Starke 54: 461468.
Burton RA, Jenner H, Carrangis L, Fahy B, Fincher GB, Hylton C, Laurie DA, Parker M, Waite D, van Wegen S, Verhoeven T and Denyer K (2002) Starch granule initiation and growth are altered in barley mutants that lack isoamylase activity. The Plant Journal 31: 97112.
Chandrashekar A and Mazhar H (1999) The biochemical basis and implications of grain strength in sorghum and maize. Journal of Cereal Science 30: 193207.
Chmelik J, Krumlova A, Budinska M, Kruml T, Psota V, Bohacenko I, Mazal P and Vydrova H (2001) Comparison of size characterization of barley starch granules determined by electron and optical microscopy, low angle laser light scattering and gravitational field-flow fractionation. Journal of the Institute of Brewing 107: 1117.
Choi H, Kim W and Shin M (2004) Properties of Korean amaranth starch compared to waxy millet and waxy sorghum starches. Starch-Starke 56: 469477.
Da Silva P, Oliveira J and Rao M (1997) The effect of granule size distribution on the rheological behavior of heated modified and unmodified maize starch dispersion. Journal of Texture Studies 28: 123138.
Dang JMC and Copeland L (2004) Studies of the fracture surface of rice grains using environmental scanning electron microscopy. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 84: 707713.
de Pater S, Caspers M, Kottenhagen M, Meima H, ter Stege R and de Vetten N (2006) Manipulation of starch granule size distribution in potato tubers by modulation of plastid division. Plant Biotechnology Journal 4: 123134.
Dillon SL, Lawrence PK, Henry RJ, Ross L, Price HJ and Johnston JS (2004) Sorghum laxiflorum and S. macrospermum, the Australian native species most closely related to the cultivated S. bicolor based on ITS1 and ndhF sequence analysis of 25 Sorghum species. Plant Systematics and Evolution 249: 233246.
Donald A, Kato K, Perry P and Waigh T (2001) Scattering studies of the internal structure of starch granules. Starch/Starke 53: 504512.
Duodo K, Nunes A, Delgadillo I, Parker M, Mills E, Belton P and Taylor J (2002) Effect of grain structure and cooking on Sorghum and Maize in vitro protein digestibility. Journal of Cereal Science 35: 161174.
Duodo K, Taylor J, Belton P and Hamaker B (2003) Factors affecting sorghum protein digestibility. Journal of Cereal Science 38: 117131.
Earp C, McDonough C and Rooney L (2003) Microscopy of pericarp development in the caryopsis of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench. Journal of Cereal Science 39: 2127.
Fannon J and BeMiller J (1992) Structure of corn starch paste and granule remnants revealed by low temperature scanning electron microscopy after cryopreparation. Cereal Chemistry 69: 456460.
Fannon JE, Gray JA, Gunawan N, Huber KC and BeMiller JN (2004) Heterogeneity of starch granules and the effect of granule channelization on starch modification. Cellulose 11: 247254.
Gaines CS, Raeker MO, Tilley M, Finney PL, Wilson JD, Betchel DB, Martin RJ, Seib PA, Lookhart GL and Donelson T (2000) Associations of starch gel hardness, granule size, waxy allelic expression, thermal pasting, milling quality, and kernel texture of 12 soft wheat cultivars. Cereal Chemistry 77: 163186.
Hall D and Sayre J (1970) A scanning electron-microscopy study of starches. II. Cereal Starches. Journal of Texture Research 40: 256266.
Hoover R, Sailaja Y and Sosulski F (1996) Characterization of starches from wild and long grain brown rice. Food Research International 29: 99107.
Huber KC and BeMiller JN (2001) Location of sites of reaction within starch granules. Cereal Chemistry 78: 173180.
James MG, Denyer K and Myers AM (2003) Starch synthesis in the cereal endosperm. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 6: 215222.
Ji Q, Oomen RJF, Vincken JP, Bolam DN, Gilbert HJ, Suurs L and Visser RGF (2004) Reduction of starch granule size by expression of an engineered tandem starch-binding domain in potato plants. Plant Biotechnology Journal 2: 251260.
Kellogg EA (2002) Classification of the grass family. In: Mallett K and Orchard A (eds) Flora of Australia, vol. 43. Melbourne: ABRS/CSIRO Australia, pp. 1936.
Lindeboom N, Chang PR and Tyler RT (2004) Analytical, biochemical and physicochemical aspects of starch granule size, with emphasis on small granule starches: A review. Starch-Starke 56: 8999.
McDonough CM, Floyd CD, Waniska RD and Rooney LW (2004) Effect of accelerated aging on maize, sorghum and sorghum meal. Journal of Cereal Science 39: 351361.
Oria M, Hamaker B, Axtell J and Huang C (2000) A highly digestible sorghum mutant cultivar exhibits a unique folded structure of endosperm protein bodies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 97: 50655070.
Parker ML, Ng A and Waldron KW (2005) The phenolic acid and polysaccharide composition of cell walls of bran layers of mature wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv. Avalon) grains. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 85: 25392547.
Peng M, Gao M, Abdel-Aal E-S, Huel P and Chibbar R (1999) Separation and characterisation of A-type and B-type starch granules in wheat endosperm. Cereal Chemistry 76: 375379.
Raeker MO, Gaines CS, Finney PL and Donelson T (1998) Granule size and distribution and chemical composition of starches from 12 soft wheat cultivars. Cereal Chemistry 75: 721728.
Rahman S, Li Z, Batey I, Cochrane MP, Appels R and Morell M (2000) Genetic alteration of starch functionality in wheat. Journal of Cereal Science 31: 91110.
Rom D, Shull J, Chandrashekar A and Kirleis A (1992) Effects of cooking and treatment with sodium bisulfite on in vitro protein digestibility and microstructure of sorghum flour. Cereal Chemistry 69: 178181.
Sandhu K, Singh N and Kaur M (2004) Characteristics of the different corn types and their grain fractions: physiochemical, thermal, morphological, and rheological properties of starch. Journal of Food Engineering 64: 119127.
Serna-Saldivar S and Rooney L (1995) Structure and chemistry of sorghum and millets. In: Dendy D (ed.) Sorghum and Millets, Chemistry and Technology. American Association of Cereal Chemists, pp. 69124.
Shewry PR and Morell M (2001) Manipulating cereal endosperm structure, development and composition to improve end-use properties. Advances in Botanical Research Incorporating Advances in Plant Pathology 34: 165236.
Shull J, Chandrashekar A, Kirleis A and Ejeta G (1990) Development of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) endosperm in varieties of varying hardness. Food Structure 9: 253267.
Singh N and Kaur L (2004) Morphological, thermal, rheological and retrogradation properties of potato starch fractions varying in granule size. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 84: 12411252.
Smith A (2001) The biosynthesis of starch granules. Biomacromolecules 2: 335341.
Svihus B, Uhlen A and Harstad O (2005) Effect of starch granule structure, associated components and processing on nutritive value of cereal starch: a review. Animal Feed Science and Technology 122: 303320.
Tateoka T (1962) Starch grains of endosperm in grass systematics. Botany Magazine Tokyo 75: 377383.
Taylor J, Novellie L and Liebenberg W (1985) Protein body degradation in the starchy endosperm of germinating sorghum. Journal of Experimental Botany 36: 12871295.
Tesso T, Ejeta G, Chandrashekar A, Huang CP, Tandjung A, Lewamy M, Axtell JD and Hamaker BR (2006) A novel modified endosperm texture in a mutant high-protein digestibility/high-lysine grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench). Cereal Chemistry 83: 194201.
Tester R, Karkalas J and Qi X (2004) Starch – composition, fine structure and architecture. Journal of Cereal Science 39: 151165.
Tomlinson K and Denyer K (2003) Starch synthesis in the cereal grains. Advances in Botanical Research 40: 161.
Wang L and Wang Y-J (2004) Application of high-intensity ultrasound and surfactants in rice starch isolation. Cereal Chemistry 81: 140144.
Zhang G and Hamaker B (1998) Low α-amylase starch digestibility of cooked sorghum flours and the effect of protein. Cereal Chemistry 75: 710713.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Plant Genetic Resources
  • ISSN: 1479-2621
  • EISSN: 1479-263X
  • URL: /core/journals/plant-genetic-resources
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 33 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 172 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.