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Phytochemistry. 2004 Nov;65(22):2977-85.

Tocopherol and tocotrienol accumulation during development of caryopses from barley (Hordeum vulgare L.).

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Institute of Botany, University of Kiel, Olshausenstr. 40, 24098 Kiel, Germany.


Tocotrienols are lipophilic antioxidants belonging to the tocochromanols, better known as vitamin E. Although present in cereal grains in high quantities not much is known about their function in plants. In a detailed study the temporal and spatial accumulation of tocotrienols and tocopherols during grain development in two barley cultivars was analyzed. Tocochromanols and lipids accumulated in parallel until 80% of the final dry weight of the kernels was reached. Later on the tocochromanol content did not change while the lipid content decreased. Generally, only about 13% of the tocochromanols were found in the germ fraction, whereas the pericarp fraction contained about 50% and the endosperm fraction about 37% of the tocochromanols. Altogether, about 85% of the tocochromanols were tocotrienols in both cultivars. In case of the tocopherols about 80% were found in the germ fraction and the remaining 20% in the pericarp fraction. Tocotrienols were almost equally present in the pericarp and the endosperm fraction. Individual forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols accumulated with different kinetics during barley grain development. The differences in distribution and accumulation indicate different functions of the individual tocochromanols during grain development.

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