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BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OF WAX PRODUCTION IN PLANTS.

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1
Plant Biology Division, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402-2180.

Abstract

The aerial surfaces of plants are covered with a wax layer that is primarily a waterproof barrier but that also provides protection against environmental stresses. The ubiquitous presence of cuticular wax is testimony to its essential function. Genetic and environmental factors influence wax quantity and composition, which suggests that it is an actively regulated process. The basic biochemistry of wax production has been elucidated over the past three decades; however, we still know very little about its regulation. This review presents a discussion along with new perspectives on the regulatory aspects of wax biosynthesis. Among the topics discussed are the partitioning of fatty acid precursors into wax biosynthesis and the elongation of fatty acids with particular emphasis on the nature of the acyl primer, and the role of ATP in fatty acid elongation. The recent cloning of wax biosynthetic genes and the transport of wax to plant surfaces are also discussed.

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