Turions are survival organs of aquatic plants such as the great duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza). They consist of approximately 50% storage starch (per dry weight) used to support the growth of newly formed sprouts following germination. They could be employed as a good model system for investigations of the storage starch degradation in plants. To induce starch degradation in the plant cells turions must be irradiated for a few days with continuous light absorbed by the plant photoreceptor phytochrome. During such treatment changes in the profile of proteins associated with the starch grain surface have been observed. It was shown by in vitro binding studies that several proteins (α-amylase, starch dikinase R 1, (β-amylase) are desorbed from the surface or lose the ability to bind to it. This effect was especially obvious when starch grains from turions irradiated for 4 days (irradiated samples) were compared to those from turions kept in darkness (dark control). A hypothesis was presented that unknown changes in the surface properties of starch grains might be very important in the mechanism of starch degradation, by altering the binding of proteins. The aim of the study was to investigate these properties immediately before and after the start of the starch degradation. Precise structural analysis of the starch grain surface was performed using a noncontact atomic force microscopy (nc-AFM). The grain surface revealed increasing roughness and a reduced density of the structural elements in the samples after irradiation. Two different kinds of randomly organized surface elements were detected by nc-AFM: the one type of a globular structure and the other one more oblong. They could be considered as the carbohydrate lamellas situated in the different way at the starch granule surface. Both were observed to become larger after irradiation. This might be a result of binding of water molecules to the carbohydrate lamellas or bending the surface carbohydrate helices into superhelices by new inter-carbohydrate hydrogen bonds. Such a modification of the starch granule surface could be a consequence of events started by the photoreceptor phytochrome involving starch phosphorylation / dephosphorylation, perhaps mediated by the newly discovered starch dikinase.