Ask a Question forum: Technical question

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Jan23778
Feb 9, 2017 9:33 AM CST
Hi,

For many years I have made home made beer using barley and wheat and have a question nobody in the beer world seems to know the answer to, so I thought I would redirect the question to the experts in this specific field (apologies for the pun).

In brewing the Alpha (and Beta) Amylase breaks down complex carbohydrates into simpler sugars in order for the yeast to be able to ferment and produce CO2, alcohol and other compounds.

The Alpha and Beta Amylase are produced in the seed through Germination/Malting.

My question revolves more around the use of the enzyme for the plant, though.

The plant supposedly generates the enzymes for the same reason; to break down the complex starches it holds within its kernel in order to provide sugar and nutrients for the plant whilst it is still in the ground and unable to do this for itself (due to lack of sunlight) a sort of plant breast-milk, if you like. But, Beta Amylase (which has the lower temperature range of the two) is only active from 54°C or 130°F.

Given that the vast majority of all plants on this planet germinate at a lower temperature than 54°C, surely neither of these Amylase enzymes would be active. Meaning the starches wouldn’t convert to sugars. I can appreciate that at a slightly lower temperature they may activate but more slowly, but wheat and barley crops are grown in much lower temperature areas, so I don’t buy that.

Does this mean that the plant uses starch reserves (instead of more simple sugars) to create the nutrients it needs and the enzymens are not used? And if so, why haven’t these unused enzymes been eradicated by evolution over the tens of thousands of years of the grain’s history.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Feb 9, 2017 9:54 AM CST
I don't really know anything, but plucked these little tidbits from a couple of google searches. Smiling

According to Wikipedia:
"Both α-amylase and β-amylase are present in seeds; β-amylase is present in an inactive form prior to germination, whereas α-amylase and proteases appear once germination has begun."

and from Oxford Academic:
"In cereals, the role of the endosperm in seed germination has been well documented. The scutellum of the embryo synthesizes and secretes gibberellin to the aleurone layer of the endosperm. Gibberellin induces the synthesis of α-amylase in the aleurone layer, which secretes such hydrolysis enzymes to the starchy endosperm. The embryo utilizes sugars released by starch degradation for its growth."

Some people use gibberellic acid to soak stubborn seeds to encourage germination.

Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.

Jan23778
Feb 10, 2017 1:46 AM CST
Hi Woofie,

That's great, thanks for the info. I was so focused on temperature that I didn't think about something else triggering the activation of a-amylase! Looks like Gibberellin is my answer!


Thanks ever so much for your time
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Feb 10, 2017 10:43 AM CST
Cool! I'm glad that gibberish (gibberellish? Smiling ) was of some help.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.

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