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Plant Physiol. 1999 Mar;119(3):1137-46.

Glycerol is a suberin monomer. New experimental evidence for an old hypothesis

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  • 1Institut fur Botanische Biologie, Universitat Freiburg, A. Gockelstrasse 3, CH-1700 Freiburg, Switzerland (L.M., A.S., A.B., U. R.).


The monomer composition of the esterified part of suberin can be determined using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy technology and is accordingly believed to be well known. However, evidence was presented recently indicating that the suberin of green cotton (Gossypium hirsutum cv Green Lint) fibers contains substantial amounts of esterified glycerol. This observation is confirmed in the present report by a sodium dodecyl sulfate extraction of membrane lipids and by a developmental study, demonstrating the correlated accumulation of glycerol and established suberin monomers. Corresponding amounts of glycerol also occur in the suberin of the periderm of cotton stems and potato (Solanum tuberosum) tubers. A periderm preparation of wound-healing potato tuber storage parenchyma was further purified by different treatments. As the purification proceeded, the concentration of glycerol increased at about the same rate as that of alpha,omega-alkanedioic acids, the most diagnostic suberin monomers. Therefore, it is proposed that glycerol is a monomer of suberins in general and can cross-link aliphatic and aromatic suberin domains, corresponding to the electron-translucent and electron-opaque suberin lamellae, respectively. This proposal is consistent with the reported dimensions of the electron-translucent suberin lamellae.

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