Cuticle Permeability Studies

A Model for Estimating Leaching of Plant Metabolites to Leaf Surfaces
  • Jörg Schönherr
  • Peter Baur


Plant leaf surfaces constitute an important habitat for micro-organisms in many vegetation types. Bacteria, yeasts, fungi and lichens can be found and the bacterial population alone ranges from 104 to 106 cells/cm2 (Libbert and Manteuffel, 1970; Hirano and Upper, 1983). These micro-organisms are essentially immobile on leaves and for those which are not pathogenic and do not penetrate the interior of the leaves the origins of nutrients essential for their growth is still an unresolved problem. Can we regard these organisms as epiphytes in the classical sense, which would imply that leaves are used only as base for attachment or do they serve as sources for substrates at least temporarily? Heterotrophic epiphytes could obtain organic carbon from volatiles contained in ambient air or emitted from the host plant through open stomata, or they may utilise metabolites which diffuse through the cuticle. Some reports have demonstrated various interactions between host plants and micro-organisms on their leaves. Volatile compounds such as C6 saturated and unsaturated alcohols and aldehydes, which are responsible for the green odour of leaves (Hatanaka, 1993), can inhibit proliferation of micro-organisms in a bioassay system if applied via the vapour phase in concentrations of some 100 µg/litre (Deng et al., 1993). These compounds also inhibited pollen germination (Hamilton et al., 1991) and development of some arthropods (Deng et al., 1993). Many other volatile compounds are emitted from leaves, flowers and fruits such as the typical aroma constituents small alcohols, aldehydes, and esters (e.g. Mattheis et al., 1991) and monoterpenes which play a role in allelopathy (e.g. Vaughn and Spencer, 1993). Some of these compounds are released in large quantities, e.g. conifers are reported to emit under extreme temperature and light conditions up to 10 µg terpenes per g leaf and minute (after Hock and Elstner, 1988), but if they can serve as substrates for micro-organisms appears not to have been investigated.


Partition Coefficient Molar Volume Cuticular Membrane Solute Mobility Open Stomata 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörg Schönherr
    • 1
  • Peter Baur
    • 1
  1. 1.The Phytodermatology Group Institute of Fruit and Nursery SciencesUniversity of HannoverSarstedtGermany

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