High environmental stress yields greater tocotrienol content while changing vitamin E profiles of wild emmer wheat seeds

Emily J. Watts, Yu Shen, Ephraim P. Lansky, Eviatar Nevo, Gerd Bobe, Maret G. Traber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vitamin E is an essential human nutrient that was first isolated from wheat. Emmer wheat, the cereal of Old World agriculture and a precursor to durum wheat, grows wild in the Fertile Crescent. Evolution Canyon, Israel, provides a microsite that models effects of contrasting environments. The north-facing and south-facing slopes exhibit low and high stress environments, respectively. Wild emmer wheat seeds were collected from both slopes and seed tocochromanol contents measured to test the hypothesis that high stress alters emmer wheat seed tocol-omics. Seeds from high stress areas contained more total vitamin E (108±15 nmol/g) than seeds from low stress environments (80±17 nmol/g, P=.0004). Vitamin E profiles within samples from these different environments revealed significant differences in isoform concentrations. Within each region, β- plus γ-tocotrienols represented the highest concentration of wheat tocotrienols (high stress, P<.0001; low stress, P<.0001), while α-tocopherol represented the highest concentration of the tocopherols (high stress, P=.0002; low stress, P<.0001). Percentages of both δ-tocotrienol and δ-tocopherol increased in high stress conditions. Changes under higher stress apparently are due to increased pathway flux toward more tocotrienol production. The production of more δ-isoforms suggests increased flow through a divergent path controlled by the VTE1 gene. Hence, stress conditions alter plant responses such that vitamin E profiles are changed, likely an attempt to provide additional antioxidant activity to promote seed viability and longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medicinal Food
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition


  • Emmer wheat
  • Evolution Canyon
  • Tocopherols
  • Tocotrienols
  • Vitamin E
  • α-tocopherol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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