Cutin – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Botanical Glossary

I. What is Cutin?

Cutin is a waxy substance that is found in the cuticle of plants. It is a complex mixture of fatty acids and glycerol that forms a protective layer on the outer surface of plant leaves, stems, and fruits. Cutin is essential for the survival of plants as it helps to prevent water loss and protect against environmental stresses such as UV radiation, pathogens, and herbivores.

II. What is the function of Cutin in plants?

The primary function of Cutin in plants is to provide a waterproof barrier that prevents excessive water loss through transpiration. This is crucial for plants to maintain their turgor pressure and overall health. In addition to its role in water retention, Cutin also serves as a protective shield against various environmental threats. It acts as a physical barrier that prevents pathogens from entering the plant tissues and protects against damage caused by herbivores and UV radiation.

III. How is Cutin produced in plants?

Cutin is synthesized in the epidermal cells of plants through a complex biochemical process. It is produced by enzymes called Cutin synthases, which catalyze the polymerization of fatty acids and glycerol into a polymer known as Cutin. The production of Cutin is tightly regulated by various environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light intensity. The composition and thickness of the Cutin layer can vary among different plant species and even within the same plant depending on the environmental conditions.

IV. What is the structure of Cutin?

Cutin is a polymer composed of long-chain fatty acids and glycerol molecules. The fatty acids are typically saturated or unsaturated and can vary in length and branching. The glycerol molecules serve as a backbone that links the fatty acids together to form a three-dimensional network. The structure of Cutin is highly hydrophobic, which makes it impermeable to water and resistant to degradation by enzymes. The arrangement of fatty acids and glycerol in Cutin can vary among different plant species, leading to differences in the physical and chemical properties of the Cutin layer.

V. How does Cutin contribute to plant protection?

Cutin plays a crucial role in protecting plants from various environmental stresses. The waterproof barrier formed by Cutin helps to prevent water loss through transpiration, which is essential for maintaining the turgor pressure of plant cells. In addition, Cutin acts as a physical barrier that prevents the entry of pathogens into the plant tissues. It also provides protection against herbivores by making it difficult for them to feed on the plant tissues. Furthermore, Cutin helps to reduce the damage caused by UV radiation by reflecting and absorbing harmful rays.

VI. What are some examples of plants with high Cutin content?

Many plant species have a high content of Cutin in their cuticle, which contributes to their ability to thrive in diverse environments. Some examples of plants with high Cutin content include succulents such as cacti and agave, which have thick Cutin layers that help them retain water in arid conditions. Conifers such as pine trees also have a high Cutin content in their needles, which protects them from cold temperatures and prevents water loss. Additionally, fruits such as apples and grapes have a thick Cutin layer on their skins, which helps to protect them from pathogens and dehydration. Overall, Cutin is a vital component of the plant cuticle that plays a crucial role in plant survival and adaptation to different environmental conditions.