Letter | Published:

Birefringence of Amylose and Amylopectin in Whole Structural Starches

Naturevolume 166page34 (1950) | Download Citation



THE view is current that unbranched amylose chains are responsible for the anisotropy of structural and fractionated starches1–3. (A review of this subject by S. Peat4 should be consulted.) This view has been influenced by the method of investigation employed. Thus the evidence from X-ray powder diagrams does not entirely coincide with that from the study of optical birefringence. Perfectly dry starches are stated5,6 to show an amorphous powder diagram though they still exhibit birefringence. The kind of product also matters. Thus, fractionated amylose may be deposited in a micro-crystalline form4, whereas amylopectin remains amorphous or statistically isotropic. But fractionation procedures may also determine physical states, so that no direct conclusion can be drawn concerning the anisotropy of amylopectin in raw structural starches. Thirdly, interpretation may also be prejudiced by theoretical assumptions regarding the structure of the branched high polymer. Thus the random branching postulated by Meyer1 would offer a resistance to crystallization absent from the models proposed by Staudinger7 or Haworth8.

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  1. 1

    Meyer, K. H., and Bernfeld, P., Helv. Chim. Acta, 23, 890 (1940).

  2. 2

    Samec, M., Koll. Beih., 54 (vi), 147 (1943).

  3. 3

    Jaloveczky, P., Bot. Kozlen (Ungarn), 39, 601 (1942).

  4. 4

    Peat, S., Ann. Rev. Biochem., 25, 75 (1946).

  5. 5

    Alsberg, C. L., Plant Phys., 13, 295 (1938).

  6. 6

    Samec, M., Koll. Beih., 54 (viii), 434 (1943).

  7. 7

    Staudinger, H., and Husemann, E., Ann., 527, 195 (1937).

  8. 8

    Haworth, W. N., Hirst, E. L., and Isherwood, F. A., J. Chem. Soc., 61, 577 (1937).

  9. 9

    Peat, S., Bourne, E. J., and Nicholls, M. J., Nature, 161, 206 (1948).

  10. 10

    Bates, F. L., French, D., and Rundle, R. E., J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 65, 142 (1943).

  11. 11

    Holden, F., and Tracey, R. (in the press).

  12. 12

    Winton, A. L., and Winton, K. B., “Structure and Composition of Foods”, 2, 334 (John Wiley, New York, 1935).

  13. 13

    Baker, F., Sci. Prog., 34, 293 (1939).

  14. 14

    Westphal, H., Z. Parasitenk., 7, 71 (1934).

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  1. Rowett Research Institute, Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire

  2. Chemistry Department, University College of North Wales, Bangor

    • W. J. WHELAN


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