Solid-State (13)C NMR Delineates the Architectural Design of Biopolymers in Native and Genetically Altered Tomato Fruit Cuticles

Biomacromolecules. 2016 Jan 11;17(1):215-24. doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01321. Epub 2015 Dec 24.


Plant cuticles on outer fruit and leaf surfaces are natural macromolecular composites of waxes and polyesters that ensure mechanical integrity and mitigate environmental challenges. They also provide renewable raw materials for cosmetics, packaging, and coatings. To delineate the structural framework and flexibility underlying the versatile functions of cutin biopolymers associated with polysaccharide-rich cell-wall matrices, solid-state NMR spectra and spin relaxation times were measured in a tomato fruit model system, including different developmental stages and surface phenotypes. The hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance of the cutin ensures compatibility with the underlying polysaccharide cell walls; the hydroxy fatty acid structures of outer epidermal cutin also support deposition of hydrophobic waxes and aromatic moieties while promoting the formation of cell-wall cross-links that rigidify and strengthen the cuticle composite during fruit development. Fruit cutin-deficient tomato mutants with compromised microbial resistance exhibit less efficient local and collective biopolymer motions, stiffening their cuticular surfaces and increasing their susceptibility to fracture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biopolymers / metabolism*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Fruit / metabolism*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Membrane Lipids / genetics
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Waxes / metabolism


  • Biopolymers
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Plant Proteins
  • Polysaccharides
  • Waxes
  • cutin