The effects of stress on plant cuticular waxes


Author for correspondence: Tom Shepherd Tel: +44 1382562731 Fax: +44 1382562426 Email:



  • Summary 469

  • Introduction 470
  • II Biosynthesis of cuticular wax 470
  • III Deposition and crystalline morphology of cuticular wax 474
  • IV Cuticular wax as a photoprotective layer 475
  • Effects of irradiation and temperature on cuticular wax composition 478
  • VI Contact angles and wettability 481
  • VII Humidity effects 482
  • VIII Water, salinity and cold stress 482
  • IX Mechanical stress 485
  • Altitude 486
  • XI Pollution 486
  • XII Genetic and environmental control of cuticular wax production 488
  • XIII Conclusions 493
  • Acknowledgements 493

  • References 493


Plants are subject to a wide range of abiotic stresses, and their cuticular wax layer provides a protective barrier, which consists predominantly of long-chain hydrocarbon compounds, including alkanes, primary alcohols, aldehydes, secondary alcohols, ketones, esters and other derived compounds. This article discusses current knowledge relating to the effects of stress on cuticular waxes and the ways in which the wax provides protection against the deleterious effects of light, temperature, osmotic stress, physical damage, altitude and pollution. Topics covered here include biosynthesis, morphology, composition and function of cuticular waxes in relation to the effects of stress, and some recent findings concerning the effects of stress on regulation of wax biosynthesis are described.