Carotenoid rich diets have been associated with lower risk of certain diseases. The great importance of cereals in human diet has directed breeding programs towards carotenoid enhancement to alleviate these deficiencies in developing countries and to offer new functional foods in the developed ones. The new cereal tritordeum (×Tritordeum Ascherson et Graebener) derived from durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum) and the wild barley Hordeum chilense, naturally presents carotenoid levels 5–8 times higher than those of durum wheat. The improvement of tritordeum properties as a new functional food requires the elucidation of biosynthetic steps for carotenoid accumulation in seeds that differ from durum wheat. In this work expression patterns of nine genes from the isoprenoid and carotenoid biosynthetic pathways were monitored during grain development in durum wheat and tritordeum. Additionally, a fine identification and quantification of pigments (chlorophylls and carotenoids) during grain development and in mature seeds has been addressed. Transcript levels of Psy1, Psy2, Zds, e-Lcy and b-Lcy were found to correlate to carotenoid content in mature grains. The specific activation of the homeologous genes Psy1, e-Lcy from H. chilense and the high lutein esterification found in tritordeum may serve to explain the differences with durum wheat in carotenoid accumulation.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 4, 2013
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