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Effect of lutein esterification on the differential distribution of carotenoids in germ and endosperm fractions from tritordeum grains

Mellado-Ortega, Elena, Hornero-Méndez, Dámaso
Journal of cereal science 2018 v.79 pp. 462-468
breeding, crops, durum wheat, endosperm, esterification, esters, fatty acid composition, food chain, genetic background, lutein, transferases
The effect of lutein esterification on the carotenoid distribution profile in the different fractions of tritordeum grains was studied. Durum wheat, a cereal lacking of lutein esters, was included for comparison in the study. Although carotenoid contents in endosperm and germ were significantly different for both cereals, the pigment distribution showed a marked dependence on the cereal's genetic background. Thus pigment content in durum wheat was 3 times higher in germ (2.52 μg/g fresh weight (fw)) than the endosperm (0.74 μg/g fw). In contrast, carotenoids in tritordeum were distributed more homogeneously (4.16 and 4.59 μg/g fw for germ and endosperm, respectively). Lutein esters were exclusively present in tritordeum fractions, with a 3-fold higher content in the endosperm, which suggests a preferential esterifying activity in this tissue. The fatty acid profile indicated that the presence of lutein esters could be limited by the existence of specific XAT (xanthophyll acyltransferase) enzymes and not by substrate availability. A positive impact of esterification on the even deposition pattern of pigments throughout the tritordeum grain was observed. These data could be useful for optimizing the retention of lutein through the food chain as well as to direct the breeding of crops enriched in lutein esters.