Suberin: biosynthesis, regulation, and polymer assembly of a protective extracellular barrier

Plant Cell Rep. 2015 Apr;34(4):573-86. doi: 10.1007/s00299-014-1727-z. Epub 2014 Dec 14.


Suberin is a lipid-phenolic biopolyester deposited in the cell walls of certain boundary tissue layers of plants, such as root endodermis, root and tuber peridermis, and seed coats. Suberin serves as a protective barrier in these tissue layers, controlling, for example, water and ion transport. It is also a stress-induced anti-microbial barrier. The suberin polymer contains a variety of C16-C24 chain-length aliphatics, such as ω-hydroxy fatty acids, α,ω-dicarboxylic fatty acids, and primary fatty alcohols. Suberin also contains high amounts of glycerol and phenolics, especially ferulic acid. In addition, non-covalently linked waxes are likely associated with the suberin polymer. This review focusses on the suberin biosynthetic enzymes identified to date, which include β-ketoacyl-CoA synthases, fatty acyl reductases, long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases, cytochrome P450 monooxygenases, glycerol 3-phosphate acyltransferases, and phenolic acyltransferases. We also discuss recent advances in our understanding of the transport of suberin components intracellularly and to the cell wall, polymer assembly, and the regulation of suberin deposition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Biopolymers / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Lipids / biosynthesis*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Waxes / metabolism


  • Biopolymers
  • Lipids
  • Waxes
  • suberin