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Composition of cuticular wax on the leaves of kalanchoe daigremontiana van Maarseveen, Clare Susan

Abstract

Analysis of cuticular wax from Kalanchoe daigremontiana leaves was performed to identify the constituent components within the wax, determine how these changed during leaf ontogenesis, and discover how they were distributed within the cuticle. Analysis of extracted cuticular wax by gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and comparison with authentic standards led to the identification of triterpenoids including glutinol, friedelin, germanicol, epifriedelanol, glutinol acetate and β-amyrin as well as very long chain fatty acid (VLCFA) derivatives including alkanes, primary alcohols, aldehydes, fatty acids, and alkyl esters. Cuticular wax composition in young K. daigremontiana leaves was dominated by triterpenoids, which made up over 70% of the lipid soluble compounds. During leaf ontogenesis, wax composition changed to include a higher proportion of VLCFA derivatives, which made up approximately 50% of cuticular wax in mature leaves. The most abundant triterpenoids in the wax were glutinol and friedelin, both fairly uncommon pentacyclic triterpenoids with a complex proposed biosynthetic mechanism. Tritriacontane (C33 alkane) was the most abundant compound within the VLCFA derivatives. Cuticular wax accumulation was found to correspond well to leaf growth, with both processes slowing at the same time. Variations in the ratio of friedelin-like compounds to glutinol-like compounds during leaf ontogenesis suggest the presence more than one active triterpenoid synthase enzyme in the leaves of K. daigremontiana. VLCFA compounds were found mainly in the epicuticular wax on both the adaxial and abaxial surfaces, while triterpenoids were relatively more abundant in the intracuticular layer. Two different epicuticular wax crystal forms were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) which can be described as platelets with sinuate margins and twisted ribbons. Based on SEM and chemical data as well as previous reports of crystal composition, it is hypothesized that each crystal type has a unique composition, with the platelets containing one or more triterpenoids and the twisted ribbons containing alkanes and other VLCFA derivatives. Confirmation of this hypothesis will have to await further investigation. This research provides information that will aid in the larger goals of characterizing a glutinol or friedelin synthase and understanding the gradients established within epicuticular and intracuticular wax layers.

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