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Plant Physiol. 2013 Sep;163(1):5-20. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.222737. Epub 2013 Jul 26.

The formation and function of plant cuticles.

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Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The plant cuticle is an extracellular hydrophobic layer that covers the aerial epidermis of all land plants, providing protection against desiccation and external environmental stresses. The past decade has seen considerable progress in assembling models for the biosynthesis of its two major components, the polymer cutin and cuticular waxes. Most recently, two breakthroughs in the long-sought molecular bases of alkane formation and polyester synthesis have allowed construction of nearly complete biosynthetic pathways for both waxes and cutin. Concurrently, a complex regulatory network controlling the synthesis of the cuticle is emerging. It has also become clear that the physiological role of the cuticle extends well beyond its primary function as a transpiration barrier, playing important roles in processes ranging from development to interaction with microbes. Here, we review recent progress in the biochemistry and molecular biology of cuticle synthesis and function and highlight some of the major questions that will drive future research in this field.

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