The molecular deposition of transgenically modified starch in the starch granule as imaged by functional microscopy

J Struct Biol. 2003 Sep;143(3):229-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2003.08.009.


The molecular deposition of starch extracted from normal plants and transgenically modified potato lines was investigated using a combination of light microscopy, environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). ESEM permitted the detailed (10 nm) topographical analysis of starch granules in their hydrated state. CLSM could reveal internal molar deposition patterns of starch molecules. This was achieved by equimolar labelling of each starch molecule using the aminofluorophore 8-amino-1,3,6-pyrenetrisulfonic acid (APTS). Starch extracted from tubers with low amylose contents (suppressed granule bound starch synthase, GBSS) showed very little APTS fluorescence and starch granules with low molecular weight amylopectin and/or high amylose contents showed high fluorescence. Growth ring structures were sharper in granules with normal or high amylose contents. High amylose granules showed a relatively even distribution in fluorescence while normal and low amylose granules had an intense fluorescence in the hilum indicating a high concentration of amylose in the centre of the granule. Antisense of the starch phosphorylating enzyme (GWD) resulted in low molecular weight amylopectin and small fissures in the granules. Starch granules with suppressed starch branching enzyme (SBE) had severe cracks and rough surfaces. Relationships between starch molecular structure, nano-scale crystalline arrangements and topographical-morphological features were estimated and discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Particle Size
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Pyrenes
  • Solanum tuberosum / chemistry
  • Solanum tuberosum / genetics
  • Starch / chemistry*
  • Starch / genetics
  • Starch / ultrastructure


  • 1-aminopyrene-3,6,8-trisulfonic acid
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Pyrenes
  • Starch