Coverage and composition of cuticular waxes on the fronds of the temperate ferns Pteridium aquilinum, Cryptogramma crispa, Polypodium glycyrrhiza, Polystichum munitum and Gymnocarpium dryopteris

Yanjun Guo, Jia Jun Li, Lucas Busta, Reinhard Jetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Aims The cuticular waxes sealing plant surfaces against excessive water loss are complex mixtures of very-long-chain aliphatics, with compositions that vary widely between plant species. To help fill the gap in our knowledge about waxes of non-flowering plant taxa, and thus about the cuticle of ancestral land plants, this study provides comprehensive analyses of waxes on temperate fern species from five different families. Methods The wax mixtures on fronds of Pteridium aquilinum, Cryptogramma crispa, Polypodium glycyrrhiza, Polystichum munitum and Gymnocarpium dryopteris were analysed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for identification, and gas chromatography-flame ionization detection for quantification. Key Results The wax mixtures from all five fern species contained large amounts of C 36-C 54 alkyl esters, with species-specific homologue distributions. They were accompanied by minor amounts of fatty acids, primary alcohols, aldehydes and/or alkanes, whose chain length profiles also varied widely between species. In the frond wax of G. dryopteris, C 27-C 33 secondary alcohols and C 27-C 35 ketones with functional groups exclusively on even-numbered carbons (C-10 to C-16) were identified; these are characteristic structures similar to secondary alcohols and ketones in moss, gymnosperm and basal angiosperm waxes. The ferns had total wax amounts varying from 3.9 μg cm-2 on P. glycyrrhiza to 16.9 μg cm-2 on G. dryopteris, thus spanning a range comparable with that on leaves of flowering plants. Conclusions The characteristic compound class compositions indicate that all five fern species contain the full complement of wax biosynthesis enzymes previously described for the angiosperm arabidopsis. Based on the isomer profiles, we predict that each fern species, in contrast to arabidopsis, has multiple ester synthase enzymes, each with unique substrate specificities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-568
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Botany
Volume122
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 24 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are very grateful to Dr Jessica Budke, University of Tennessee, for thoughtful comments on an early version of this manuscript. This work was supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada [Discovery grant #262461] and the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant number 31670407, 2016]. Y.G. conducted this study as a visiting scholar with financial support from Chongqing Municipal Education Commission Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Chain length distribution
  • GC-MS
  • cuticular waxes
  • ketones
  • polypod ferns
  • positional isomers
  • secondary alcohols
  • seedless plants
  • wax esters

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