, 251:51 | Cite as

Late-maturity α-amylase expression in wheat is influenced by genotype, temperature and stage of grain development

  • Adinda P. DerkxEmail author
  • Daryl J. Mares
Original Article


Main Conclusion

Late-maturity α-amylase (LMA) expression in wheat grains can be induced by either a cool temperature shock close to physiological maturity or continuous cool maximum temperatures during grain development.


Late-maturity α-amylase (LMA) is a genetic trait in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) involving the production of α-amylase during grain development, which can result in an unacceptably low Falling Number (FN) in mature grain and consequent grain downgrading. Comparison of the FN test, an α-amylase activity assay and a high pI α-amylase-specific ELISA on the same meal samples gave equivalent results; ELISA was used for further experiments because of its isoform specificity. A cool temperature shock during the middle stages of grain development is known to induce LMA and is used for phenotypic screening. It was determined that a cool temperature treatment of seven days was required to reliably induce LMA. Glasshouse studies performed in summer and winter demonstrated that temperature affected the timing of sensitivity to cool-shock by altering the rate and duration of grain development, but that the sensitive grain developmental stage was unchanged at 35–45% moisture content. Wheat varieties with Rht-B1b or Rht-D1b dwarfing genes responded to a cool-shock only from mid grain filling until physiological maturity, whilst genotypes with Rht8c or without a dwarfing gene expressed LMA in response to a cool-shock during a wider developmental range. A continuous cool maximum temperature regimen (23 °C/15 °C day/night) during grain development also resulted in LMA expression and showed a stronger association with field expression than the cool-shock treatment. These results clarify how genotype, temperature and grain developmental stage determine LMA expression, and allow for the improvement of LMA phenotypic screening methods.


Dwarfing genes Falling number Grain filling High pI α-amylase Reduced height (Rht) Triticum aestivum 



Days post-anthesis


Falling number


Late-maturity α-amylase


Isoelectric point


Reduced height



We would like to thank the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation for funding support (Grant no. UA00150) and provision of the ELISA polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies under a research-only licensing agreement.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

425_2020_3341_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Agriculture, Food and WineUniversity of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia

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