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Bayerischen Julius-Mawimilians-Universität Würzburg (2016)

Chemical and functional analyses of the plant cuticle as leaf transpiration barrier

Schuster Ann-Christin

Titre : Chemical and functional analyses of the plant cuticle as leaf transpiration barrier

Chemie-Funktionsanalysen der pflanzlichen Kutikula als Transpirationsbarriere

Auteur : Schuster Ann-Christin

Université de soutenance : Bayerischen Julius-Mawimilians-Universität Würzburg

Grade : Doctoral Thesis 2016

Résumé partiel
Cuticles cover all above-ground primary plant organs and are lipoid in nature consisting of a cutin matrix with cuticular waxes embedded within or deposited on its surface. The foremost function of the plant cuticle is the limitation of transpirational water loss into the surrounding atmosphere. Transpiration of water vapour from plants differs between stomatal and cuticular transpiration. Stomatal closure minimises the stomatal water loss and the remaining, much lower water transpiration occurs through the plant cuticle. Temperature influence on the transpiration barrier properties of intact leaves is not yet known, despite the importance of the cuticular transpiration especially under drought and heat conditions. The present study focuses on the temperature-dependent minimum water permeability of whole leaves, in comparison to the temperature effect on the cuticular permeance of isolated, astomatous cuticles (Chapter I - III). The minimum water permeability was determined gravimetrically from leaf drying curves and represents the cuticular water permeability of intact, stomatous leaves under conditions of complete stomatal closure. The temperature effect on the transpiration barrier of the desert plant Rhazya stricta and the Mediterranean sclerophyll Nerium oleander exposed a continuous increase of minimum water permeabilities with an increase in temperature. In contrast to other published studies, no abrupt and steep increase of the water permeability at high temperatures was detected. This steep increase indicates structural changes of the barrier properties of isolated cuticular membranes with a drastic decrease of efficiency. A stabilising impact of the cell wall on the plant cuticle of intact leaves was proposed. This steadying effect was confirmed with different experimental approaches measuring the cuticular water permeability of Prunus laurocerasus intact leaves. Physiological analysis of water transport on isolated, astomatous leaf cuticles indicated a drastic decline of the barrier properties at elevated temperatures for Prunus laurocerasus but not for Nerium oleander. Cuticular components were quantitatively and qualitatively analysed by gas chromatography with a flame ionisation detector and a mass spectrometric detector, respectively. A high accumulation of pentacyclic triterpenoids as cuticular wax components in relation to the cutin monomer coverage was detected for Nerium oleander and for Rhazya stricta leaves, too. Accordingly, reinforcing of the cutin matrix by triterpenoids was proposed to improve the mechanical strength and to reduce the extensibility of plant cuticles. Thus, structural changes of the cuticular barrier properties were potentially suppressed at elevated temperatures. The function of the cuticular wax amount and/or wax composition and its relation with the cuticular water permeability remains to be elucidated. In the second part of this work the cuticular wax quantity and quality as well as its impact on the transpiration barrier properties was analysed in order to deduce a potential relation between chemistry and function of plant cuticles (Chapter IV - V).

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