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wheat, postharvest maturation, physicochemical properties, glutenin macropolymer, molecular weight distribution
The present study was aimed to investigate change in physicochemical characteristics and glutenin macropolymer (GMP) molecular weight distribution during postharvest wheat maturation. The freshly harvested wheat was stored under four different conditions (WT1, WT2, WT3 and WT4) for specified times. During maturation, the strengthening of wheat gluten structure was observed by increase in gluten index, swelling index of glutenin and sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) sedimentation value. The postharvest maturation resulted in contents increase of glutenin, glutenin/gliadin ratio, and GMP, and the decline of gliadin content. The contents of free sulfhydryl in GMP reduced, and S-S content rose during the whole maturation. Visible aggregates of GMP were observed in SDS-PAGE patterns for WT3 and WT4 samples after 4 weeks of storage. Moreover, in these two samples, polymerisation of gluten proteins into GMP was observed in size-exclusion high performance liquid chromatography patterns during storage. Some low molecular weight glutenin subunits (LMW-GS) incorporated into the aggregate, or combination of high molecular weight glutenin subunits and LMW-GS formed large polymeric glutenins by S-S linkage, and then assembled into GMP in postharvest wheat maturation. GMP polymerisation probably results in the improvement of wheat quality.