Isolation of high quality RNA from cereal seeds containing high levels of starch

Phytochem Anal. Mar-Apr 2012;23(2):159-63. doi: 10.1002/pca.1337. Epub 2011 Jul 8.


Introduction: Cereals are an important source of food, feed and fuel with a rapidly increasing global demand. However, cereal seeds contain high levels of starch and polysaccharides, making the isolation of high quality RNA extremely difficult.

Objective: To develop a novel method for extracting high quality total RNA from various starch- and polysaccharides-rich cereal seeds, such as maize, rice, sorghum and wheat.

Methodology: We developed a modified sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS)/TRIzol method. The combined use of a Tris buffer (pH 9.0) and SDS before TRIzol extraction effectively resolved the problem of seed homogenate solidification in such a buffer. A high concentration of SDS was used separately, not only to promote cell lysis but also to effectively dissolve seed sample containing high levels of starch. Moreover, acid phenol saturated with 0.1 M citrate buffer (pH 4.3) was used to separate RNA from DNAs, proteins and high levels of starch. This rapid protocol was compared with other RNA isolation methods preferentially used for plants rich in polysaccharides and secondary metabolites.

Results: Gel electrophoresis analysis indicated that the extracted total RNA had good integrity without apparent DNA contamination. Furthermore, an A₂₆₀/₂₈₀ ratio of approximately 2.0, an A₂₆₀/₂₃₀ ratio of more than 2.0 and RIN values of more than 8.6 indicated that the isolated RNA was of high purity. The isolated RNA was suitable for subsequent molecular manipulations, such as reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR), rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) and real-time PCR.

Conclusion: The study has described an easy, efficient and highly reproducible method for RNA isolation from various cereal seeds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Edible Grain / genetics*
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Guanidines
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Oryza / chemistry
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Phenols
  • Polysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • RNA, Plant / isolation & purification*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Sorghum / chemistry
  • Sorghum / genetics
  • Starch / isolation & purification*
  • Starch / metabolism
  • Triticum / chemistry
  • Triticum / genetics
  • Tromethamine
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zea mays / genetics


  • Guanidines
  • Phenols
  • Polysaccharides
  • RNA, Plant
  • trizol
  • Tromethamine
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Starch