Sugars in crop plants
Halford, N. G., Curtis, T. Y., Muttucumaru, N., Postles, J. and Mottram, D. S. (2011) Sugars in crop plants. Annals of Applied Biology, 158 (1). pp. 1-25. ISSN 1744-7248
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7348.2010.00443.x
We review current knowledge of the most abundant sugars, sucrose, maltose, glucose and fructose, in the world's major crop plants. The sucrose-accumulating crops, sugar beet and sugar cane, are included, but the main focus of the review is potato and the major cereal crops. The production of sucrose in photosynthesis and the inter-relationships of sucrose, glucose, fructose and other metabolites in primary carbon metabolism are described, as well as the synthesis of starch, fructan and cell wall polysaccharides and the breakdown of starch to produce maltose. The importance of sugars as hormone-like signalling molecules is discussed, including the role of another sugar, trehalose, and the trehalose biosynthetic pathway. The Maillard reaction, which occurs between reducing sugars and amino acids during thermal processing, is described because of its importance for colour and flavour in cooked foods. This reaction also leads to the formation of potentially harmful compounds, such as acrylamide, and is attracting increasing attention as food producers and regulators seek to reduce the levels of acrylamide in cooked food. Genetic and environmental factors affecting sugar concentrations are described.