Kinetic model of sucrose accumulation in maturing sugarcane culm tissue

Phytochemistry. Aug-Sep 2007;68(16-18):2375-92. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.04.023. Epub 2007 Jun 6.


Biochemically, it is not completely understood why or how commercial varieties of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) are able to accumulate sucrose in high concentrations. Such concentrations are obtained despite the presence of sucrose synthesis/breakdown cycles (futile cycling) in the culm of the storage parenchyma. Given the complexity of the process, kinetic modelling may help to elucidate the factors governing sucrose accumulation or direct the design of experimental optimisation strategies. This paper describes the extension of an existing model of sucrose accumulation (Rohwer, J.M., Botha, F.C., 2001. Analysis of sucrose accumulation in the sugar cane culm on the basis of in vitro kinetic data. Biochem. J. 358, 437-445) to account for isoforms of sucrose synthase and fructokinase, carbon partitioning towards fibre formation, and the glycolytic enzymes phosphofructokinase (PFK), pyrophosphate-dependent PFK and aldolase. Moreover, by including data on the maximal activity of the enzymes as measured in different internodes, a growth model was constructed that describes the metabolic behaviour as sugarcane parenchymal tissue matures from internodes 3-10. While there was some discrepancy between modelled and experimentally determined steady-state sucrose concentrations in the cytoplasm, steady-state fluxes showed a better fit. The model supports a hypothesis of vacuolar sucrose accumulation against a concentration gradient. A detailed metabolic control analysis of sucrose synthase showed that each isoform has a unique control profile. Fructose uptake by the cell and sucrose uptake by the vacuole had a negative control on the futile cycling of sucrose and a positive control on sucrose accumulation, while the control profile for neutral invertase was reversed. When the activities of these three enzymes were changed from their reference values, the effects on futile cycling and sucrose accumulation were amplified. The model can be run online at the JWS Online database (

MeSH terms

  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Stems / growth & development
  • Plant Stems / metabolism
  • Saccharum / growth & development
  • Saccharum / metabolism*
  • Sucrose / metabolism*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Plant Proteins
  • Sucrose
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • sucrose synthase