Starch trek : the search for yield

Lloyd, James R. ; Kossmann, Jens (2019)

CITATION: Lloyd, J. R. & Kossmann, J. 2019. Starch trek : the search for yield. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9:1930, doi:10.3389/fpls.2018.01930.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Starch is a plant storage polyglucan that accumulates in plastids. It is composed of two polymers, amylose and amylopectin, with different structures and plays several roles in helping to determine plant yield. In leaves, it acts as a buffer for night time carbon starvation. Genetically altered plants that cannot synthesize or degrade starch efficiently often grow poorly. There have been a number of successful approaches to manipulate leaf starch metabolism that has resulted in increased growth and yield. Its degradation is also a source of sugars that can help alleviate abiotic stress. In edible parts of plants, starch often makes up the majority of the dry weight constituting much of the calorific value of food and feed. Increasing starch in these organs can increase this as well as increasing yield. Enzymes involved in starch metabolism are well known, and there has been much research analyzing their functions in starch synthesis and degradation, as well as genetic and posttranslational regulatory mechanisms affecting them. In this mini review, we examine work on this topic and discuss future directions that could be used to manipulate this metabolite for improved yield.

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