, Volume 20, Issue 3-4, pp 229-243

Threonine accumulation in the seeds of a barley mutant with an altered aspartate kinase

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Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) mutants altered in the regulation of synthesis of aspartate-derived amino acids were sought by screening embryos for growth on a medium containing lysine plus threonine. One mutant, Rothamsted 2501, was selected with good growth. From the segregation of resistance in the following generations, it was concluded that the resistance was conferred by a dominant gene, Lt1. No homozygous Lt1/Lt1 fertile plants have been recovered. Partially purified aspartate kinase preparations from resistant and sensitive plants were separated on DEAE-cellulose chromatography into three peaks of activity (I, II, III) and the feedback regulatory properties of these peaks determined. These peaks are considered to be three isozymic forms of aspartate kinase, one predominantly sensitive to threonine and two sensitive to lysine or lysine plus S-adenosyl methionine. The feedback characteristics of one of the peaks of aspartate kinase activity from resistant plants were changed such that lysine was half-maximally inhibitory at 10 rather than 0.4mm. Increases in the concentrations of the free pools of threonine (4×) and methionine (2×) were measured in young plants grown on a basal medium. Threonine in the soluble fraction of mature seeds from resistant plants was increased from 0.8 to 9.6% of the total threonine content. The total content of both threonine and methionine of the seeds was increased by 6% compared with grain of similar nitrogen content.

S.E.R. acknowledges the receipt of a Council of Europe Scholarship through The British Council. Part of this was also supported by EEC Grant 473.