PerspectivePlant Science

SWEET! The Pathway Is Complete

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Science  13 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6065, pp. 173-174
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216828

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Photosynthesis in plants leads to the accumulation of carbohydrates (e.g., sugars, starch), upon which all terrestrial life depends. In most plants, sucrose is the principal carbohydrate transported long-distance in the veins to support the growth and development of roots, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Sucrose can be directly stored in specialized tissues, such as fruits or the stems of sugarcane and sweet sorghum, or it can be converted into starch in cereal seeds and potato tubers. Thus, proper control of carbohydrate partitioning is fundamental to crop yield and human nutrition and to the development of plant-based biofuels. Given the importance of this process, it may come as a surprise that until now, we did not understand the entire pathway for the export of sucrose from leaves. On page 207 of this issue, Chen et al. (1) identify and characterize the long-sought missing player in sucrose transport, the sucrose effluxer.