Variation in storage alpha-glucans of the Porphyridiales (Rhodophyta)

Plant Cell Physiol. 2008 Jan;49(1):103-16. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcm172. Epub 2007 Dec 13.


Storage glucans were analyzed in the Porphyridiales which include the most primitive and phylogenetically diverged species in the Rhodophyta, to understand early evolution of the glucan structure in the Rhodophyta. The storage glucans of both Galdieria sulphuraria and Cyanidium caldarium consisted of glycogen, while those of Rhodosorus marinus, Porphyridium purpureum, P. sordidum and Rhodella violacea could be defined as semi-amylopectin. X-ray diffraction analysis of the glucans demonstrated variation in the crystalline structure: the patterns in P. purpureum and R. violacea were of A- and B-types, respectively, while alpha-glucans of R. marinus and P. sordidum displayed structures with lower crystallinity. Electron microscopic observations indicated that the alpha-glucans of P. sordidum consisted of two kinds of granules; a minor component of more dense granules with crystalline leaflets and a major component of softer ones without crystalline structure. Gel permeation chromatography showed that all the species containing the semi-amylopectin-type glucans also contained amylose, although the relative amounts of this fraction were different depending on the species. Our results are consistent with two distinct evolution scenarios defined either by the independent acquisition of semi-crystalline starch-like structures in the different plant lineages or more probably by the loss of starch and reversion to glycogen synthesis in cyanidian algae growing in hot and acid environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Glucans / chemistry*
  • Glucans / metabolism*
  • Glucans / ultrastructure
  • Rhodophyta / metabolism*


  • Glucans