, Volume 255, Issue 6, pp 1855–1876 | Cite as

Starch formation inside plastids of higher plants

  • Asena Goren
  • Daniel Ashlock
  • Ian J. TetlowEmail author


Starch is a water-insoluble polyglucan synthesized inside the plastid stroma within plant cells, serving a crucial role in the carbon budget of the whole plant by acting as a short-term and long-term store of energy. The highly complex, hierarchical structure of the starch granule arises from the actions of a large suite of enzyme activities, in addition to physicochemical self-assembly mechanisms. This review outlines current knowledge of the starch biosynthetic pathway operating in plant cells in relation to the micro- and macro-structures of the starch granule. We highlight the gaps in our knowledge, in particular, the relationship between enzyme function and operation at the molecular level and the formation of the final, macroscopic architecture of the granule.


Amylopectin Amyloplasts Amylose Cereals Chloroplasts Debranching enzymes Endosperm Granule morphology Malto-oligosaccharides Phytoglycogen Plastids Starch Starch synthase Starch branching enzyme Starch structure models 





Atomic force microscopy


ADP-Glc pyrophosphorylase


amylose extender


Carbohydrate binding module


Cross polarization/magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance


Days after pollination


Debranching enzyme


Disproportionating enzyme


Degree of polymerization


Early starvation


Granule-bound starch synthase


Glycoside hydrolase family




α-D-glucose 1-phosphate


Glucan water dikinase




Limit dextrinase


Like Sex4




Protein targeting to starch


Phospho-glucan water dikinase


Small angle X-ray scattering


Starch branching enzyme


Sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Starch phosphorylase


Starch synthase


Transmission electron microscopy



The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant (435781).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological SciencesUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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