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Analysis and Specification of Starch Granule Size Distributions

Ming Gao1, Mahta Moussavi1, Deland Myers1


Starch from all plant sources are made up of granules in a range of sizes and shapes having different occurrence frequencies, i.e., exhibiting a size and a shape distribution. Starch granule size data determined using several types of particle sizing techniques are often problematic due to poor reproducibility or lack of statistical significance resulting from some insurmountable systematic errors, including sensitivity to granule shapes and limits of granule-sample sizes. We outlined a procedure for reproducible and statistically valid determinations of starch granule size distributions using the electrical sensing zone technique, and for specifying the determined granule lognormal size distributions using an adopted two-parameter multiplicative form with improved accuracy and comparability. It is applicable to all granule sizing analyses of gram-scale starch samples, and, therefore, could facilitate studies on how starch granule sizes are molded by the starch biosynthesis apparatus and mechanisms; and how they impact properties and functionality of starches for food and industrial uses. Representative results are presented from replicate analyses of granule size distributions of sweetpotato starch samples using the outlined procedure. We further discussed several key technical aspects of the procedure, especially, the multiplicative specification of granule lognormal size distributions and some technical means for overcoming frequent aperture blockage by granule aggregates.

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