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Plant Physiol. 1998 Mar;116(3):901-11.

Epicuticular wax accumulation and fatty acid elongation activities are induced during leaf development of leeks

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  • 1Plant Biology Division, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, P.O. Box 2180, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402, USA.


Epicuticular wax production was evaluated along the length of expanding leek (Allium porrum L.) leaves to gain insight into the regulation of wax production. Leaf segments from the bottom to the top were analyzed for (a) wax composition and load; (b) microsomal fatty acid elongase, plastidial fatty acid synthase, and acyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) thioesterase activities; and (c) tissue and cellular morphological changes. The level of total wax, which was low at the bottom, increased 23-fold along the length of the leaf, whereas accumulation of the hentriacontan-16-one increased more than 1000-fold. The onset of wax accumulation was not linked to cell elongation but, rather, occurred several centimeters above the leaf base. Peak microsomal fatty acid elongation activity preceded the onset of wax accumulation, and the maximum fatty acid synthase activity was coincident with the onset. The C16:0- and C18:0-ACP-hydrolyzing activities changed relatively little along the leaf, whereas C18:1-ACP-hydrolyzing activity increased slightly prior to the peak elongase activity. Electron micrographic analyses revealed that wax crystal formation was asynchronous among cells in the initial stages of wax deposition, and morphological changes in the cuticle and cell wall preceded the appearance of wax crystals. These studies demonstrated that wax production and microsomal fatty acid elongation activities were induced within a defined and identifiable region of the expanding leek leaf and provide the foundation for future molecular studies.

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