Structural and molecular basis of starch viscosity in hexaploid wheat.
ABSTRACT Wheat starch is considered to have a low paste viscosity relative to other starches. Consequently, wheat starch is not preferred for many applications as compared to other high paste viscosity starches. Increasing the viscosity of wheat starch is expected to increase the functionality of a range of wheat flour-based products in which the texture is an important aspect of consumer acceptance (e.g., pasta, and instant and yellow alkaline noodles). To understand the molecular basis of starch viscosity, we have undertaken a comprehensive structural and rheological analysis of starches from a genetically diverse set of wheat genotypes, which revealed significant variation in starch traits including starch granule protein content, starch-associated lipid content and composition, phosphate content, and the structures of the amylose and amylopectin fractions. Statistical analysis highlighted the association between amylopectin chains of 18-25 glucose residues and starch pasting properties. Principal component analysis also identified an association between monoesterified phosphate and starch pasting properties in wheat despite the low starch-phosphate level in wheat as compared to tuber starches. We also found a strong negative correlation between the phosphate ester content and the starch content in flour. Previously observed associations between internal starch granule fatty acids and the swelling peak time and pasting temperature have been confirmed. This study has highlighted a range of parameters associated with increased starch viscosity that could be used in prebreeding/breeding programs to modify wheat starch pasting properties.