Webinar: From polymers to granules: How do plants make starch?

11 October 2023 19:00-20:00, United Kingdom


Introduction
Starch, the primary form of carbohydrate storage in plants, is of vital importance to humankind as a major source of calories in our diets. Yet, we still do not fully understand how plants make starch. Starch is composed of the glucose polymers amylopectin and amylose, which appear simple in chemical structure. However, the biosynthesis of starch is complex as the polymers assemble into insoluble, semi-crystalline structures called starch granules. While there is good knowledge on how amylopectin and amylose are synthesised, we are only beginning to understand how starch granule formation is initiated, and how the polymers assemble into granules of defined morphology. 
 
In this webinar, I will discuss the exciting advances made over the last five years on understanding how plants make starch granules. We have made significant progress in unravelling the mechanism by which starch granule formation is initiated. This initiation process is distinct from the polymer biosynthesis process and requires specific enzymes and proteins. We have also discovered genetic and biochemical factors that explain why different cereal grains, such as wheat, rice, and maize, produce starch granules that are remarkably distinct in shape. This knowledge has led to novel biotechnological approaches for manipulating starch granule size and shape in wheat to resemble the shapes found in other crops. We will discuss the potential applications of these approaches in improving the nutritional and functional qualities of starch.
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