BACKGROUND: Recent studies indicate that amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) and certain carbohydrates referred to as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) play an important role in promoting wheat sensitivity. Hitherto, no study has investigated the accumulation of ATIs during the development of the wheat caryopsis. We collected caryopses of common wheat cv. 'Arnold' at eight different grain developmental stages to study compositional changes in ATI and FODMAP content.
RESULTS: The harvested caryopses were analysed for their size, protein and carbohydrate concentrations. ATIs were further characterized by MALDI-TOF MS, and their trypsin inhibition was evaluated by an enzymatic assay. The results showed that ATI accumulation started about 1 week after anthesis and subsequently increased steadily until physiological maturity. However, the biological activity of ATIs in terms of enzyme inhibition was not detectable before about 4 weeks after anthesis. Carbohydrate analysis revealed the abundance of short-chain fructans in early stages of grain development, whereas non-water-soluble carbohydrates increased during later developmental stages.
CONCLUSIONS: The results provide new insights into the complex metabolisms during grain filling and maturation, with particular emphasis on the ATI content as well as the inhibitory potential towards trypsin. The time lag between ATI accumulation and development of their biological activity is possibly attributed to the assembling of ATIs to dimers and tetramers, which seems to be crucial for their inhibitory potential.