Puroindolines: the molecular genetic basis of wheat grain hardness
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The variation in grain hardness is the single most important trait that determines end-use quality of wheat. Grain texture classification is based primarily on either the resistance of kernels to crushing or the particle size distribution of ground grain or flour. Recently, the molecular genetic basis of grain hardness has become known, and it is the focus of this review. The puroindoline proteins a and b form the molecular basis of wheat grain hardness or texture. When both puroindolines are in their `functional' wild state, grain texture is soft. When either one of the puroindolines is absent or altered by mutation, then the result is hard texture. In the case of durum wheat which lacks puroindolines, the texture is very hard. Puroindolines represent the molecular-genetic basis of the Hardness locus on chromosome 5DS and the soft (Ha) and hard (ha) alleles present in hexaploid bread wheat varieties. To date, seven discrete hardness alleles have been described for wheat. All involve puroindoline a or b and have been designated Pina-D1b and Pinb-D1b through Pinb-D1g. A direct role of a related protein, grain softness protein (as currently defined), in wheat grain texture has yet to be demonstrated.
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