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Title: Issues of Starch in Sugarcane Processing and Prospects of Breeding for Low Starch Content in Sugarcane

item Eggleston, Gillian
item Viator, Ryan
item Hale, Anna

Submitted to: Sugar Cane International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/28/2008
Publication Date: 5/1/2008
Citation: Zhou, M., Kimbeng, C.A., Eggleston, G., Viator, R.P., Hale, A.L., Gravois, K.A. 2008. Issues of Starch in Sugarcane Processing and Prospects of Breeding for Low Starch Content in Sugarcane. Sugar Cane International. 26(3):3-13.

Interpretive Summary: Currently, starch (a long chain sugar) is considered a troublesome impurity in sugarcane processing in the U.S. Unfortunately, starch deliver to factories has increased in recent years because of changes in sugarcane harvesting practices. This paper reviews issues of controlling starch in sugarcane processing at the factory. The paper also reports on the variations in starch among different kinds of sugarcane, and new prospects of breeding for low starch sugarcane varieties.

Technical Abstract: Starch is a sugarcane impurity that adversely affects the quantity and quality of sugar processes and products. The increased production of combine and green harvested sugarcane has increased delivery of starch to sugarcane factories. Starch occurs as granules composed of amylose and amylopectin polysaccharides. Starch can reduce crystallization and centrifugation rates, occlude into the sucrose crystal, increase molasses production, reduce filterability and affination of raw sugars, and impede refinery decolorization processes. The behavior of starch granules on hydration and heating directly influences processing. The enzyme ?-amylase used to hydrolyze starch in the factory is expensive and not always efficient. Low starch cultivars would be a more preventative, economical, and efficient solution. This paper reviews issues of starch in sugarcane processing, reports on the variations in starch among wild species germplasm, and prospects of breeding for low starch. Significant differences exist in starch levels among Saccharum and allied species and clones within these species. Saccharum species can be grouped into high (S. bengalense, Erianthus and S. spontaneum), medium (S. barberi, S. sinense and S. robustum) and low starch (S. officinarum and Miscanthus). The cultivated species produce less starch than their wild relatives; thus low starch in sugarcane is an advantage for sucrose production. The normal distribution in starch for S. spontaneum, a high starch species, means low starch clones can be selected for introgression. When cultivars were crossed to S. spontaneum and the F1s backcrossed to cultivars, the starch content ranked as cultivars < BC1 < F1 clones. Environmental conditions such as freezing temperature tend to decrease starch content in sugarcane. From a breeding standpoint, cultivars developed or selected for low levels of starch are likely to produce relatively low and stable starch content over a wide range of conditions. To avoid increasing selection traits for breeding programs, future research to lower starch in cultivars should focus on selecting parents with low starch in introgression and crossing programs.