Grain Filling and Starch Synthesis in Barley

Alan H. Schulman*, Pia Runeberg-Roos, and Marko Jaaskelainen

Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Viikki Biocentre, P.O. Box 56, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland

Barley is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. Although barley was later surpassed by rice, wheat, and maize as major human staples, important niches such as malt production nevertheless remain. Furthermore, barley has a wide physiological tolerance and is a major grain in marginal agricultural areas ranging from western Asia to near the Arctic circle. Barley yield is directly correlated with starch deposition in the developing grains, a process which occurs coordinately with the laying down of storage proteins. In this chapter, we shall consider primarily starch biosynthesis with respect to grain filling, and also shortly address protein biosynthesis, within the context of the ontogeny of the grain. Grain-filling from the developmental point of view will be examined first, followed by an analysis of the biosynthesis and deposition of these two major components of the grain.

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