Sterol composition and biosynthesis in sorghum: Importance to developmental regulation

Rick C. Heupel, Y. Sauvaire, Phu H. Le, Edward J. Parish, W. David Nes

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53 Scopus citations


Sterol composition and biosynthesis have been examined in seeds, germinating seeds and blades from fally matured leaves of Sorghum bicolor in various stages of development'from seedlings (seven-day plants) to flowering (66-day) plants. The profile of the dominant free sterols of seeds was similar to that of leaf blades; both contained cholesterol, 24α-methylcholesterol (campesterol), 24β-methylcholesterol (dihydrobrassicasterol), 24α-ethylcholesterol (sitosterol) and 24α-ethylcholesta-5,22-dienol (stigmasterol). Sufficient sterol intermediates were identified in the plant to indicate separate post-cycloartenol pathways to sterolic end products. The total free sterol content of the seed (μg/seed) increased somewhat during the 20 hr germination period. However, as the plant developed (seven to 48 days), there was a logarithmic increase in the leaf blade sterol content (μg/leaf blade) which plateaued at the onset of floral differentiation (ca. day 41). Over the next 18 days (48 to 66 days-period of inflorescense development), the sterol content rapidly decreased. In the early stages of plant development, the leaf blade pentacyclic triterpenoid (PT) content was negligible. With the onset of floral differentiation, PT content increased logarithmically, reaching a plateau level that surpassed the sterol content as flowering progressed. These results imply that a critical mass of sterol is associated with sorghum for floral induction. Sterol loss from the leaves of the flowering plants presumably was compensated for by the diversion of 2,3-oxidosqualene (SO) from sterol synthesis to PT production. Additional feeding and trapping experiments with [2-14C]mevalonic acid, [2-3H]cycloartenol, [24-3H]lanosterol [4-14C]sitosterol and [4-14C]cholesterol fed to germinating seeds and leaves from flowering plants demonstrated that sorghum possessed a cycloartenolbased pathway; germinating seeds synthesized 24-alkylsterols but not cholesterol, although cholesterol was identified in both dry and germinating seeds by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS); and mature leaves synthesized cholesterol and 24α-alkylsterols but not 24β-methylcholesterol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986


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