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Magn Reson Imaging. 2007 Apr;25(3):425-32. Epub 2006 Nov 20.

Water mobility in the endosperm of high beta-glucan barley mutants as studied by nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Flakkebjerg, DK-4200 Slagelse, Denmark.


(1)H NMR imaging (MRI) was used as a noninvasive technique to study water distribution and mobility in hydrated barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) seeds of accessions with varying content of beta glucan (BG), a highly hygroscopic cell wall component. High contents of BG in barley are unfavorable in malting where it leads to clotting of filters and hazing of beer as well as in animal feed where it hinders the rapid uptake of energy. However, a high content of BG has a positive nutritional effect, as it lowers the cholesterol and the glycaemic index. It was studied whether water distribution and mobility were related to content and location of BG. Water mobility was investigated by following the rate and mode of desiccation in hydrated single seeds. In order to determine the different water components, a multispin echo experiment was set up to reveal the T(2) transverse relaxation rates of water within the seeds. A principal component analysis (PCA) discriminated control seeds from the high-BG mutant seeds. MRI proved efficient in tracing the differences in water-holding capacity of contrasting barley seeds. All accessions showed nonuniform distribution of water at full hydration as well as during desiccation. The embryo retained water even after 36 h of drying, whereas the endosperm showed low and heterogeneous mobility of the water after drying. The relaxation time constants indicated that the BG mutants had regions of much higher water mobility around the ventral crease compared to the control. It is concluded that MRI can be applied to investigate temporal and spatial differences in the location of specific chemical compounds in single seeds.

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