The biophysical design of plant cuticles: an overview

New Phytol. 2011 Mar;189(4):938-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03553.x.


The outer surfaces of epidermal cell walls are impregnated with an extracellular matrix called the cuticle. This composite matrix provides several functions at the interface level that enable plants to thrive in different habitats and withstand adverse environmental conditions. The lipid polymer cutin, which is the main constituent of the plant cuticle, has some unique biophysical properties resulting from its composition and structure. This review summarizes the progress made towards understanding the biophysical significance of this biopolymer with special focus on its structural, thermal, biomechanical, and hydric properties and relationships. The physiological relevance of such biophysical properties is discussed in light of existing knowledge on the plant cuticle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Biophysical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Biopolymers / metabolism
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Epidermis / physiology*


  • Biopolymers
  • Membrane Lipids
  • cutin