Starch pp 93-158 | Cite as

The Transition from Glycogen to Starch Metabolism in Cyanobacteria and Eukaryotes

  • Steven BallEmail author
  • Christophe Colleoni
  • Maria Cecilia Arias


α-1,4-linked glucan chains branched through α-1,6 glucosidic lineages define the most frequently found storage polysaccharides in living cells. These glucans come in two very distinct forms known as glycogen and starch. The small water-soluble glycogen particles distribute widely in Archaea, Bacteria, and heterotrophic eukaryotes, while semicrystalline solid starch seems to be restricted to photosynthetic eukaryotes. This review focusses on the so-called glycosyl-nucleotide-dependent pathway of starch and glycogen synthesis. Through comparative biochemistry of storage polysaccharide metabolism in distinct clades, we will review the evidence sustaining that starch has evolved from preexisting glycogen metabolism several times during the evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes and cyanobacteria. This review will also describe the possible function of storage polysaccharide metabolism in establishing metabolic symbiosis during plastid endosymbiosis. We will detail the evidence sustaining that storage polysaccharide metabolism was used by three distinct organisms to establish a tripartite symbiosis that facilitated metabolic integration of free-living cyanobacteria into evolving organelles.


Starch Amylopectin Glucan Amylose Glycogen Photosynthesis Endosymbiosis Chlamydia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Ball
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christophe Colleoni
    • 1
  • Maria Cecilia Arias
    • 1
  1. 1.Unité de Glycobiologie Structurale et FonctionnelleUMR 8576 CNRS – Université Lille 1Villeneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance

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