Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 81, Issue 1–2, pp 71–92 | Cite as

Dissecting the molecular basis of the contribution of source strength to high fructan accumulation in wheat

  • Gang-Ping XueEmail author
  • Janneke Drenth
  • Donna Glassop
  • Maarten Kooiker
  • C. Lynne McIntyre


Fructans represent the major component of water soluble carbohydrates (WSCs) in the maturing stem of temperate cereals and are an important temporary carbon reserve for grain filling. To investigate the importance of source carbon availability in fructan accumulation and its molecular basis, we performed comparative analyses of WSC components and the expression profiles of genes involved in major carbohydrate metabolism and photosynthesis in the flag leaves of recombinant inbred lines from wheat cultivars Seri M82 and Babax (SB lines). High sucrose levels in the mature flag leaf (source organ) were found to be positively associated with WSC and fructan concentrations in both the leaf and stem of SB lines in several field trials. Analysis of Affymetrix expression array data revealed that high leaf sucrose lines grown in abiotic-stress-prone environments had high expression levels of a number of genes in the leaf involved in the sucrose synthetic pathway and photosynthesis, such as Calvin cycle genes, antioxidant genes involved in chloroplast H2O2 removal and genes involved in energy dissipation. The expression of the majority of genes involved in fructan and starch synthetic pathways were positively correlated with sucrose levels in the leaves of SB lines. The high level of leaf fructans in high leaf sucrose lines is likely attributed to the elevated expression levels of fructan synthetic enzymes, as the mRNA levels of three fructosyltransferase families were consistently correlated with leaf sucrose levels among SB lines. These data suggest that high source strength is one of the important genetic factors determining high levels of WSC in wheat.


Sucrose Fructan Gene expression Fructosyltransferase Water soluble carbohydrates Wheat 



This work was supported by funding from the Australian Grain Research & Development Corporation. Authors are grateful to Drs Ray Shorter, Allan R. Rattey, Fernanda Dreccer, Mr Greg Roberts and Mr. Philip van Drie for their help in field trials.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gang-Ping Xue
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janneke Drenth
    • 1
  • Donna Glassop
    • 1
  • Maarten Kooiker
    • 1
  • C. Lynne McIntyre
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Plant IndustrySt LuciaAustralia

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