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Keywords:

  • cuticular wax;
  • leaf surface;
  • plant cuticles;
  • privet (Ligustrum vulgare);
  • triterpenoids

Summary

  • • 
    Previous research has shown that cuticular triterpenoids are exclusively found in the intracuticular wax layer of Prunus laurocerasus. To investigate whether this partitioning was species-specific, the intra- and epicuticular waxes were identified and quantified for the glossy leaves of Ligustrum vulgare, an unrelated shrub with similar wax morphology.
  • • 
    Epicuticular wax was mechanically stripped from the adaxial leaf surface using the adhesive gum arabic. Subsequently, the organic solvent chloroform was used to extract the intracuticular wax from within the cutin matrix. The isolated waxes were quantified using gas chromatography with flame ionization detection and identified by mass spectrometry. The results were visually confirmed by scanning electron microscopy.
  • • 
    The outer wax layer consisted entirely of homologous series of very-long-chain aliphatic compound classes. By contrast, the inner wax layer was dominated (80%) by two cyclic triterpenoids, ursolic and oleanolic acid.
  • • 
    The accumulation of triterpenoids in the intracuticular leaf wax of a second, unrelated species suggests that this localization may be a more general phenomenon in smooth cuticles lacking epicuticular wax crystals. The mechanism and possible ecological or physiological reasons for this separation are currently being investigated.