Many plants store part of their photosynthate as starch during the day and remobilise it to support metabolism and growth at night. Mutants unable to synthesize or degrade starch show strongly impaired growth except in long day conditions. In rapidly growing plants, starch turnover is regulated such that it is almost, but not completely, exhausted at dawn. There is increasing evidence that premature or incomplete exhaustion of starch turnover results in lower rates of plant growth. This review provides an update on the pathways for starch synthesis and degradation. We discuss recent advances in understanding how starch turnover and the use of carbon for growth is regulated during diurnal cycles, with special emphasis on the role of the biological clock. Much of the molecular and genetic research on starch turnover has been performed in the reference system Arabidopsis. This review considers to what extent information gained in this weed species maybe applicable to annual crops and perennial species.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Ltd.