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Cutin and Suberin

  1. Yonghua Li-Beisson

Published Online: 15 MAR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001920.pub2



How to Cite

Li-Beisson, Y. 2011. Cutin and Suberin. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. CEA/CNRS/Aix-Marseille University, Cadarache, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2011

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (16 MAY 2016)


Cutin and suberin are cell-wall associated glycerolipid polymers specific to plants. Cutin forms the framework of the cuticle sealing the aerial epidermis, whereas suberin is present in the periderm of barks and underground organs. Suberised walls are also found in root internal tissues. Barriers based on cutin and suberin restrict transport of water across cell walls and limit pathogen invasions. Chemical analysis shows that both polymers are polyesters composed mostly of C16-C18 hydroxyacids, diacids and epoxyacids esterified to each other and to glycerol. Suberin, whose best known form is cork, usually differs from cutin by a higher content in C20-C24 aliphatics and aromatics. In the last decade, the identification of Arabidopsis mutants affected in cutin or suberin content has allowed the identification of several proteins involved in polyester biosynthesis, including acyltransferases with unique specificities, fatty acid hydroxylases, acyl-CoA synthetases, fatty acid elongases and an ABC transporter.

Key Concepts:

  • The epidermal cells and suberising cells have specialised enzymes that convert the common cellular fatty acids into the unique components of cutin and suberin, respectively.

  • Oxygenated fatty acid monomers are produced by fatty acid oxidases of the cytochrome P450 superfamily.

  • Acylglycerol dimers can be synthesised by special glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferases.

  • Whether polymerisation of dimers and monomers occurs in intracellular compartments or in the cell walls is still unknown.

  • How cutin and suberin polymers are linked to the cell walls remains to be determined.

  • Cutin contributes to the formation of surface nanostructures in epidermis.


  • cutin;
  • suberin;
  • waxes;
  • oxygenated fatty acids;
  • glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase;
  • P450 monooxygenase;
  • cuticle;
  • cork