Free amino acids and sugars in rye grain: Implications for acrylamide formation

Tanya Y. Curtis, Stephen J. Powers, Dimitrios Balagiannis, J. Stephen Elmore, Donald S. Mottram, Martin A.J. Parry, Mariann Rakszegi, Zoltan Bedö, Peter R. Shewry, Nigel G. Halford

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Acrylamide forms from free asparagine and sugars during cooking, and products derived from the grain of cereals, including rye, contribute a large proportion of total dietary intake. In this study, free amino acid and sugar concentrations were measured in the grain of a range of rye varieties grown at locations in Hungary, France, Poland, and the United Kingdom and harvested in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Genetic and environmental (location and harvest year) effects on the levels of acrylamide precursors were assessed. The data showed free asparagine concentration to be the main determinant of acrylamide formation in heated rye flour, as it is in wheat. However, in contrast to wheat, sugar, particularly sucrose, concentration also correlated both with asparagine concentration and with acrylamide formed. Free asparagine concentration was shown to be under genetic (G), environmental (E), and integrated (GE) control. The same was true for glucose, whereas maltose and fructose were affected mainly by environmental factors and sucrose was largely under genetic control. The ratio of variation due to varieties (genotype) to the total variation (a measure of heritability) for free asparagine concentration in the grain was 23%. Free asparagine concentration was closely associated with bran yield, whereas sugar concentration was associated with low Hagberg falling number. Rye grain was found to contain much higher concentrations of free proline than wheat grain, and less acrylamide formed per unit of asparagine in rye than in wheat flour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1959-1969
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 2010


  • Acrylamide
  • Amino acids
  • Asparagine
  • Plant breeding
  • Secale cereale
  • Sugars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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    Curtis, T. Y., Powers, S. J., Balagiannis, D., Elmore, J. S., Mottram, D. S., Parry, M. A. J., Rakszegi, M., Bedö, Z., Shewry, P. R., & Halford, N. G. (2010). Free amino acids and sugars in rye grain: Implications for acrylamide formation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(3), 1959-1969.