In cereals, the presence of soluble polysaccharides including (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan has downstream implications for human health, animal feed and biofuel applications. Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench is a versatile crop, but there are limited reports regarding the content of such soluble polysaccharides. Here, the amount of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan present in sorghum tissues was measured using a Megazyme assay. Very low amounts were present in the grain, ranging from 0.16%–0.27% (w/w), while there was a greater quantity in vegetative tissues at 0.12–1.71% (w/w). The fine structure of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan, as denoted by the ratio of cellotriosyl and cellotetraosyl residues, was assessed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ranged from 2.6–3:1 in the grain, while ratios in vegetative tissues were lower at 2.1–2.6:1. The distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan was examined using a specific antibody and observed with fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy. Micrographs showed a variable distribution of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan influenced by temporal and spatial factors. The sorghum orthologs of genes implicated in the synthesis of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan in other cereals, such as the Cellulose synthase-like (Csl) F and H gene families were defined. Transcript profiling of these genes across sorghum tissues was carried out using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, indicating that, as in other cereals, CslF6 transcripts dominated.
Ermawar RA, Collins HM, Byrt CS, Betts NS, Henderson M, Shirley NJ, Schwerdt J, Lahnstein J, Fincher GB, Burton RA (2015) Distribution, structure and biosynthetic gene families of (1,3;1,4)-b-glucan in Sorghum bicolor. J Integr Plant Biol 57: 429–445 doi: 10.1111/jipb.12338