Remodelling of arabinoxylan in wheat (Triticum aestivum) endosperm cell walls during grain filling

G. A. Toole, C. Barron, G. Le Gall, I. J. Colquhoun, P. R. Shewry, E. N.C. Mills

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Previous studies using spectroscopic imaging have allowed the spatial distribution of structural components in wheat endosperm cell walls to be determined. FT-IR microspectroscopy showed differing changes in arabinoxylan (AX) structure, during grain development under cool/wet and hot/dry growing conditions, for differing cultivars (Toole et al. in Planta 225:1393-1403, 2007). These studies have been extended using Raman microspectroscopy, providing more details of the impact of environment on the polysaccharide and phenolic components of the cell walls. NMR studies provide complementary information on the types and levels of AX branching both early in development and at maturity. Raman microspectroscopy has allowed the arabinose:xylose (A/X) ratio in the cell wall AX to be determined, and the addition of ferulic acid and related phenolic acids to be followed. The changes in the A/X ratio during grain development were affected by the environmental conditions, with the A/X ratio generally being slightly lower for samples grown under cool/wet conditions than for those from hot/dry conditions. The degree of esterification of the endosperm cell walls with ferulic acid was also affected by the environment, being lower under hot/dry conditions. The results support earlier suggestions that AX is either delivered to the cell wall in a highly substituted form and is remodelled through the action of arabinoxylan arabinofuranohydrolases or arabinofuranosidases, or that low level substituted AX are incorporated into the wall late in cell wall development, reducing the average degree of substitution, and that the rate of this remodelling is influenced by the environment. 1H NMR provided a unique insight into the chemical structure of intact wheat endosperm cell walls, providing qualitative information on the proportions of mono- and disubstituted AX and the levels of branching of adjacent units. The A/X ratio did not change greatly with either the development stage or the growth conditions, but the ratio of mono- to disubstituted Xylp residues increased markedly (by about fourfold) in the more mature samples, confirming the changes in branching levels determined using FT-IR. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that intact endosperm cell walls have been studied by 1H NMR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-680
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell wall
  • Endosperm
  • Environment
  • NMR
  • Raman Microspectroscopy
  • Wheat

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