, Volume 146, Issue 5, pp 607-614

Chemical and ultrastructural evidence that waxes associated with the suberin polymer constitute the major diffusion barrier to water vapor in potato tuber (Solanum tuberosum L.)

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Combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry showed that C21, C23, and C25 n-alkanes accumulated in the suberized layers during wound healing of cores of potato tuber tissue. Treatment (10 min) of freshly-cut tissue with trichloroacetate (TCA), an inhibitor of fatty-acid chain elongation, severely inhibited accumulation of hydrocarbons and fatty alcohols associated with the suberized layer in the wound healing tissue (maximum inhibition at 4 mM) but had very little effect on the deposition of the major aliphatic components of the suberin polymer. This preferential inhibition of wax synthesis resulted in severe inhibition of the development of diffusion resistance of the tissue to water vapor. These results strongly indicate that the waxes associated with the suberin polymer, rather than the polymer itself, consitute the major diffusion barrier formed during wound healing. Electron-microscopic examination showed that inhibition of wax synthesis by TCA disrupted the formation of the lamellar structure of suberin specifically by preventing the formation of the light bands. This evidence strongly suggests that the light bands in the suberin complex are composed of waxes.

Scientific Paper No. 5330, Project 2001, College of Agriculture Research Center, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164, USA