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How to augment starch production in plants

The latest issue (31 august) of the US scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious in the world, has published an article on important aspects related to a molecule (ADPglucose) which is needed for plants to produce starch.

In order to assess the importance of this research, two fundamental factors have to be taken into account: one is the annual production of starch derived from vegetables and estimated to approximately one thousand million tonnes; secondly, the fact that recently starch has been used as raw material for the production of biofuels, biodegradable plastics, etc. Thus, it is highly probable that the international scientific community has taken note of the discovery described in this journal and it will have a significant repercussion in multiple industrial sectors, especially those involved in the search for alternative energies and the protection of the environment. The article describes the location of the ADPglucose molecule in plant cells producing a reserve substance called starch. Until now it was thought that the ADPglucose was located only in the compartment where the cell produces starch, the chloroplast. However, and this is the contribution of the research team from the Agricultural Institute of Arrosadía, it has been demonstrated for the first time that ADPglucose is produced outside the chloroplast. This fact appears in the very title of the article: "Most of ADPglucose linked to starch biosynthesis occurs outside the chloroplast in source leaves". The discovery provides a great clue for the improvement of varieties. Once the enzyme responsible for ADPglucose production is known, enormous advances can be made in the race to obtain vegetable varieties which produce large quantities of starch. In fact, based on this finding, the research group in question is currently aiming its research to augmenting the production of starch in potatoes by means of stimulating ADPglucose production.Published in:PNAS 2004 101: 13080-13085; ,published online before print as 10.1073/pnas.0402883101