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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.

Galactomannans as the reserve carbohydrate in legume seeds

M. S. Buckeridge*, S. M. C. Dietrich and D. U. de Lima Seijao de Fisiologia e Bioquímica de Plantas, Instituto de Botánica C.P. 4005, CEP 01061-970, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil

In this chapter we review data produced on galactomannans from seeds of the Leguminosae. Chemical structure, biosynthesis, degradation and control of catabolism are discussed considering old and recent data. A comparison of the anatomy of seeds from species of Caesalpinioideae and Faboideae suggest that a large diversity of structures seem to exist in the Leguminosae, these data being discussed in relation to different mechanisms of mobilisation found for certain species. A survey of galactomannan yield (188 measurements) and composition (233 measurements for mannose:galactose ratios) is presented for 172 species. These data is arranged according to what are believed to be the evolutionary relationships between the main groups in the Leguminosae and the compilation suggests that, during evolution, yield decreased whereas galactosyl branching increased. Based on the differences in galactomannan hydrodynamic properties according to degree of galactosylation, the ecological consequences for plantlet adaptation to their environment are discussed. The industrial uses of galactomannan are shortly reviewed and some strategies to modify galactomannan properties, now available due to the recent studies of enzyme purification, gene cloning and surveys of occurrence of galactomannans in nature, are proposed.

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