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Non-cellulosic cell wall polysaccharides are subject to genotype × environment effects in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) grain

Betts, Natalie S., Fox, Glen P., Kelly, Alison M., Cruickshank, Alan W., Lahnstein, Jelle, Henderson, Marilyn, Jordan, David R., Burton, Rachel A.
Journal of cereal science 2015 v.63 pp. 64-71
Sorghum bicolor, arabinoxylan, barley, biofuels, cell wall components, cell walls, electron microscopy, feedstocks, forage, genotype, germplasm, grain sorghum, oats, staple foods, tissues, wheat
Sorghum is a staple food for half a billion people and, through growth on marginal land with minimal inputs, is an important source of feed, forage and increasingly, biofuel feedstock. Here we present information about non-cellulosic cell wall polysaccharides in a diverse set of cultivated and wild Sorghum bicolor grains. Sorghum grain contains predominantly starch (64–76%) but is relatively deficient in other polysaccharides present in wheat, oats and barley. Despite overall low quantities, sorghum germplasm exhibited a remarkable range in polysaccharide amount and structure. Total (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan ranged from 0.06 to 0.43% (w/w) whilst internal cellotriose:cellotetraose ratios ranged from 1.8 to 2.9:1. Arabinoxylan amounts fell between 1.5 and 3.6% (w/w) and the arabinose:xylose ratio, denoting arabinoxylan structure, ranged from 0.95 to 1.35. The distribution of these and other cell wall polysaccharides varied across grain tissues as assessed by electron microscopy. When ten genotypes were tested across five environmental sites, genotype (G) was the dominant source of variation for both (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan and arabinoxylan content (69–74%), with environment (E) responsible for 5–14%. There was a small G × E effect for both polysaccharides. This study defines the amount and spatial distribution of polysaccharides and reveals a significant genetic influence on cell wall composition in sorghum grain.