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Pathway of Sugar Transport in Germinating Wheat Seeds

Aoki, Naohiro, Scofield, Graham N., Wang, Xin-Ding, Offler, Christina E., Patrick, John W., Furbank, Robert T.
Plant physiology 2006 v.141 no.4 pp. 1255-1263
sieve elements, wheat, genes, roots, shoots, glucose, starch, solutes, Triticum aestivum, esters, phloem loading, hexoses, labeling techniques, in situ hybridization, germination, sucrose, transporters, yeasts, fluorescent dyes, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, aleurone cells, endosperm, maltose
Three homeologous genes encoding a sucrose (Suc) transporter (SUT) in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum), TaSUT1A, 1B, and 1D, were expressed in germinating seeds, where their function is unknown. All three TaSUT1 proteins were confirmed to be capable of transporting both Suc and maltose by complementation tests with the SUSY7/ura3 yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) mutant strain. The role of Suc transporters in germinating grain was examined by combining in situ hybridization, immunolocalization, fluorescent dye tracer movement, and metabolite assays. TaSUT1 transcript and SUT protein were detected in cells of the aleurone layer, scutellar epidermis, scutellar ground cells, and sieve element-companion cell complexes located in the scutellum, shoot, and root. Ester loading of the membrane-impermeable fluorescent dye carboxyfluorescein into the scutellum epidermal cells of germinating seeds showed that a symplasmic pathway connects the scutellum to the shoot and root via the phloem. However, the scutellar epidermis provides an apoplasmic barrier to solute movement from endosperm tissue. Measurements of sugars in the root, shoot, endosperm, and scutellum suggest that, following degradation of endosperm starch, the resulting hexoses are converted to Suc in the scutellum. Suc was found to be the major sugar present in the endosperm early in germination, whereas maltose and glucose predominate during the later stage. It is proposed that loading the scutellar phloem in germinating wheat seeds can proceed by symplasmic and apoplasmic pathways, the latter facilitated by SUT activity. In addition, SUTs may function to transport Suc into the scutellum from the endosperm early in germination and later transport maltose.