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Carbohydrate Reserves in Plants - Synthesis and Regulation A.K. Gupta and N. Kaur (Editors) © 2000 Elsevier Science B. V. All rights reserved.

Role of fructans redistributed from vegetative tissues in grain filling of wheat and barley.

Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, 1150 Lilly Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150, USA

The storage of fructans in the internode of cereals is an important phenomenon because it serves as a supplement to contributions from the remaining green tissue to the filling of grains in the head and thus to yield. Stem remobilization of fructans to the kernel was last reviewed in 1993 (1) when the reported contribution was estimated at 11-44 percent of the grain dry weight. Contributions of stem fructan to the weight gain of the kernel have utilized mass balance as the chief method for acquiring data. Some have supplemented this data by tagging the carbon molecules stored in the stem and then measuring the amount of tag remobilized to the grain. Stable isotope enrichment (13C), and radiolabeled CO2 have been used to tag carbon moved to the stem and then to the grain. All of these methods yield estimates that are relatively accurate, but by the complex nature of the measurement are not quantitatively precise. Cereals have two ways to buffer the genotype by environment interaction on kernel weight gain. One is in the development of transport tissues with in the head and individual spikelet, the other is reserve storage in the stem. Changing these buffering systems to optimize grain weight could result in record high and low yields depending on the growing conditions and cultivar planted. Fructan accumulation may have other adaptive advantages but the stem storage for supplementing assimilates during kernel growth is an important role for maintaining yield during environmental stress.

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