Photosynthesis, reserve mobilization and enzymes of sucrose metabolism in soybean (Glycine max) cotyledons

Christopher S. Brown, Steven C. Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soybean (Glycine max L. [Merr] cv. Ransom II) seedlings were grown under a light/ dark regime or in continuous darkness. Cotyledons were harvested daily for measurements of reserve mobilization, net carbon exchange rate, chlorophyll content and activities of certain enzymes involved in sucrose metabolism. Seedlings lost dry weight for the first 3 to 4 days after planting, then maintained a constant dry weight in the etiolated seedlings, and gained dry weight (via net fixation of CO2) in the light‐grown seedlings. In general, the patterns of reserve mobilization were as expected based on the collective work of other investigators. Soluble sugars were mobilized first, followed by protein and lipid. Galactinol, previously uncharacterized in soybean cotyledons, was present at low concentrations and was rapidly depleted within 2 days after planting. Mobilization of reserves was most important during the first 8 days after planting, whereas net cotyledonary photosynthesis began at 6 days after planting and was the primary source of assimilates after 8 days. Maximum rates of cotyledon photosynthesis were higher [up to 18 mg CO2 (g dry weight)−1 h−1] than previously reported and accounted for about 75% of the assimilates transported from the cotyledons to the growing seedling during the functional life of the cotyledon. Enzyme activities in light‐grown cotyledons peaked 7 to 10 days after planting and then declined. Sucrose phosphate synthase (EC and sucrose synthase (EC activities were similar in etiolated and light‐grown seedlings, whereas uridine‐5′‐di‐phosphatase (EC activity was substantially higher in light‐grown seedlings. During the period of reserve mobilization, the maximum sucrose phosphate synthase activity in cotyledonary extracts was in excess of the calculated rate of sucrose formation. However, when the cotyledons had highest net photosynthetic rates (14 days after planting), sucrose phosphate synthase activity was similar to the rate of carbon assimilation. It appears that soybean cotyledons are adapted for high rates of sucrose formation (from reserve mobilization and/or photosynthesis) for export to the rapidly growing tissues of the seedling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-543
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1987


  • Seedlings growth
  • sucrose phosphate synthase
  • sucrose synthase
  • uridine‐5′‐diphosphatase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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