Oats are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, including compounds that collectively constitute vitamin E, the tocols. Tocols are comprised of two subgroups, tocopherols and tocotrienols. Due to their potent antioxidant properties, attention has been given to the health benefits of tocols in oats. However, little is known about developmental aspects of their accumulation. Moreover, aside from their role in protecting membranes from oxidative damage, their possible physiological roles in planta have largely gone uninvestigated. In this study, we quantified tocol accumulation at five time points during oat seed development, and also compared tocol concentration and composition in the whole seed both to endosperm and embryos at a late stage of seed development. The temporal pattern of accumulation of the tocol subgroups was different. Both tocotrienols and tocopherols steadily increased over the course of seed development; however, tocotrienol progression was sigmoidal and tocopherol linear. By the end of seed development, tocotrienols were the most abundant tocol both in whole seed and in seed with embryos removed. In contrast, embryos contained higher concentrations of tocopherols than tocotrienols late in seed development. Differences in both temporal and spatial distribution during seed development suggest distinct roles for tocotrienols and tocopherols.
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- Vitamin E