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Sugar Uptake and Metabolism in the Developing Endosperm of Tassel-seed Tunicate (Ts-5 Tu) Maize

  • Paul A. Thomas
  • Frederick C. Felker
  • C. Gerald Crawford
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1992


Factors regulating assimilate transport into developing maize (Zea mays L.) kernels have been difficult to determine because of the structural complexity of basal kernel tissues and the damage that results from tissue dissection. The sensitivity of maize kernels to experimental manipulation is such that substantial maternal tissue is required to support kernel growth in vitro. Consequently, sugar transport experiments with isolated seed tissues or detached kernels have not unequivocally demonstrated how sugar transport occurs. In the present study, Tassel-seed Tunicate (Ts-5 Tu) maize kernels were investigated as a model system for introducing test solutions into the pedicel apoplast with minimal wounding. Transpiration in leafy glumes drew 14C-sugar solutions up the 8- to 10-millimeter-long pedicel stalks into the basal endosperm transfer cell region. 14C from fructose was incorporated into starch for 8 days. Sugar uptake into endosperm and embryo tissue showed specificity and inhibitor sensitivity. In particular, p-chloromercuribenzene sulfonate partially inhibited fructose uptake into the endosperm but had no effect on the metabolic conversion of that fructose that entered the endosperm. These results are consistent with active, carrier-mediated sugar transport, but a definitive determination would require more detailed tissue analysis. We propose that further refinement of the incubation solution may allow long-term kernel growth without cob tissue and thus provide a more precise determination of which maternal factors influence seed development.

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