Apoplastic polyesters in Arabidopsis surface tissues--a typical suberin and a particular cutin

Phytochemistry. 2005 Nov;66(22):2643-58. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2005.09.027. Epub 2005 Nov 9.


Cutinized and suberized cell walls form physiological important plant-environment interfaces as they act as barriers limiting water and nutrient loss and protect from radiation and invasion by pathogens. Due to the lack of protocols for the isolation and analysis of cutin and suberin in Arabidopsis, the model plant for molecular biology, mutants and transgenic plants with a defined altered cutin or suberin composition are unavailable, causing that structure and function of these apoplastic barriers are still poorly understood. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed that Arabidopsis leaf cuticle thickness ranges from only 22 nm in leaf blades to 45 nm on petioles, causing the difficulty in cuticular membrane isolation. We report the use of polysaccharide hydrolases to isolate Arabidopsis cuticular membranes, suitable for depolymerization and subsequent compositional analysis. Although cutin characteristic omega-hydroxy acids (7%) and mid-chain hydroxylated fatty acids (8%) were detected, the discovery of alpha,omega-diacids (40%) and 2-hydroxy acids (14%) as major depolymerization products reveals a so far novel monomer composition in Arabidopsis cutin, but with chemical analogy to root suberin. Histochemical and TEM analysis revealed that suberin depositions were localized to the cell walls in the endodermis of primary roots and the periderm of mature roots of Arabidopsis. Enzyme digested and solvent extracted root cell walls when subjected to suberin depolymerization conditions released omega-hydroxy acids (43%) and alpha,omega-diacids (24%) as major components together with carboxylic acids (9%), alcohols (6%) and 2-hydroxyacids (0.1%). This similarity to suberin of other species indicates that Arabidopsis roots can serve as a model for suberized tissue in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / chemistry*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Lipids
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plastics / chemistry*
  • Plastics / metabolism
  • Polyesters / chemistry*
  • Polyesters / metabolism
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization


  • Lipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plastics
  • Polyesters
  • cutin
  • suberin