BCH/PPA 503 2nd hour exam April 6, 2000


  1. An abstract of a paper published in the most recent issue of Plant Physiology is given below. Describe the main steps from sucrose to triglyceride in these developing embryos (details of fatty acid elongation need not be given). Hypothesize what you think might be the main differences in carbohydrate/lipid metabolism in stage A and C embryos that might be able to account for the differences reported in this abstract. (16 points)



Peter J. Eastmond and Stephen Rawsthorne. 2000. Coordinate Changes in Carbon Partitioning and Plastidial Metabolism during the Development of Oilseed Rape Embryos Plant Physiol, March 2000, Vol. 122, pp. 767-774




Measurements of metabolic fluxes in whole embryos and isolated plastids have revealed major changes in the pathways of carbon utilization during cotyledon filling by oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) embryos. In the early cotyledon stage (stage A), embryos used sucrose (Suc) predominantly for starch synthesis. Plastids isolated from these embryos imported glucose-6-phosphate (Glc-6-P) and partitioned it to starch and fatty acids synthesis and to the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway in the ratio of 2:1:1 on a hexose basis. Of the substrates tested, Glc-6-P gave the highest rates of fatty acid synthesis by the plastids and pyruvate was used weakly. By the mid- to late-cotyledon stage (stage C), oil accumulation by the embryos was rapid, as was their utilization of Suc for oil synthesis in vitro. Plastids from C-stage embryos differed markedly from those of stage-A embryos: (a) pyruvate uptake and utilization for fatty acid synthesis increased by respectively 18- and 25-fold; (b) Glc-6-P partitioning was predominantly to the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (respective ratios of 1:1:3); and (c) the rate of plastidial fatty acid synthesis more than doubled. This increased rate of fatty synthesis was dependent upon the increase in pyruvate uptake and was mediated through the induction of a saturable transporter activity.

















2.      Describe the major differences in our current understanding of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) biosynthesis in plants compared to ascorbic acid synthesis in animals that can make this compound (what was previously thought to occur in plants). What were the key experiments that led to this current model of ascorbic acid biosynthesis in plants? (13 points)











3.      Give approximate structures (main structural features) of three products of the oxylipin pathway that you would guess are volatile (can exist partly in a gaseous phase at 25 C). Why might you guess these to be volatile? (7 points)