A Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy study of sugar glasses: application to anhydrobiotic higher plant cells.

W.F. Wolkers, H. Oldenhof, M. Alberda, F.A. Hoekstra

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118 Citations (Scopus)


Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR) was used to study glasses of pure carbohydrates and in the cytoplasm of desiccation tolerant plant organs. The position of the OH stretching vibration band (vOH) shifted with temperature. Two linear regression lines were observed in vOH against temperature plots. The temperature at the point of intersection between these two lines coincided with the glass transition temperature (T(g)), as determined by other methods. The temperature at the intersection point decreased with increasing water content, which further validates that, indeed, T(g) was observed. T(g) values that were determined for dry glucose, sucrose, maltose, trehalose and raffinose glasses were 27, 57, 91, 108 and 108°C, respectively. The shift of vOH with temperature, the wavenumber-temperature coefficient (WTC), was higher in sugar glasses having higher T(g). This suggests that glasses are more loosely packed when they have higher T(g). For Typha latifolia pollen and dried Craterostigma plantagineum leaves we obtained similar vOH vs. temperature plots as for carbohydrate glasses, indicating that a glass transition was observed. The T(g) in dry pollen was ca. 45°C and in dry plant leaves ca. 65°C, with WTC values comparable to those observed in the carbohydrates. The T(g) values in these tissues decreased with increasing water contents. Our data suggest that the carbohydrates that are present in the cytoplasm are primary factors contributing to the glassy state. We conclude that FTIR provides new insights in the structure of glasses in carbohydrates and in biological tissues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-96
JournalBiochimica et biophysica acta-protein structure and molecular enzymology
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Craterostigma plantagineum
  • Desiccation tolerance
  • FTIR spectroscopy
  • Glassy state
  • Leaf
  • Pollen
  • Sugar
  • Typha latifolia


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