Developmental dynamics of stem starch accumulation in Sorghum bicolor
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Sweet sorghums were identified that accumulate up to ~9% of their total stem dry weight as starch. Starch accumulated preferentially in stem pith parenchyma in close proximity to vascular bundles. Stem starch accumulated slowly between floral initiation and anthesis and more rapidly between anthesis and 43 days post-anthesis before declining in parallel with tiller outgrowth. Genes involved in stem starch metabolism were identified through phylogenetic approaches and RNA-seq analysis of Della stem gene expression during the starch accumulation phase of development. Genes differentially expressed in stems were identified that are involved in starch biosynthesis (i.e., AGPase SS/LS, starch synthases, starch-branching enzymes), degradation (i.e., glucan-water dikinase, β-amylase, disproportionating enzyme, alpha-glucan phosphorylase) and amyloplast sugar transport (glucose-6-P translocator). Transcripts encoding AGPase SS and LS subunits with plastid localization were differentially induced during stem starch accumulation indicating that ADP-glucose for starch biosynthesis is primarily generated in stem plastids. Cytosolic heteroglucan metabolism may play a role in stem sucrose/starch accumulation because genes encoding cytosolic forms of the disproportionating enzyme and alpha-glucan phosphorylase were induced in parallel with stem sucrose/starch accumulation. Information on the stem starch pathway obtained in this study will be useful for engineering sorghum stems with elevated starch thereby improving forage quality and the efficiency of biomass conversion to biofuels and bio-products.
author list (cited authors)
McKinley, B. A., Casto, A. L., Rooney, W. L., & Mullet, J. E.