The Complexities of Starch Biosynthesis in Cereal Endosperms
The majority of agriculturally important crops in the world produce substantial amounts of starch. Starch, a polymer of glucose moieties, comprises approximately 70% of the dry weight of the major cereal grain grown worldwide. As such, starch provides up to 80% of the calories consumed daily by humans, and it is also the major source of energy for the animals we consume. In addition, there are many industrial uses for starch, including the growing production of ethanol as an alternative fuel. Given the growing human population, the ever-shrinking land areas available for plant production and the increasing demand for starch for ethanol and other industrial chemicals, knowing how to produce more starch and create starches of different structures are research areas of paramount importance. Because the fo cus of this book is on molecular and genetic approaches to maize improvement, our emphasis will be on genetic alterations — either spontaneous mutations or trans-genic approaches — that alter starch quality or quantity. Genes of extant commer cial use will receive particular emphasis, and discussion will be limited to genes known to be important for starch synthesis, although the reader should be aware that not all of the important genes have been identified. This chapter should be viewed as an overview, because space constraints limit detailed discussions of each topic.
KeywordsStarch Synthesis Starch Biosynthesis Maize Endosperm Barley Endosperm Starch Branching Enzyme
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