Asymmetric water transport in dense leaf cuticles and cuticle-inspired compositionally graded membranes
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Most of the aerial organs of vascular plants are covered by a protective layer known as the cuticle, the main purpose of which is to limit transpirational water loss. Cuticles consist of an amphiphilic polyester matrix, polar polysaccharides that extend from the underlying epidermal cell wall and become less prominent towards the exterior, and hydrophobic waxes that dominate the surface. Here we report that the polarity gradient caused by this architecture renders the transport of water through astomatous olive and ivy leaf cuticles directional and that the permeation is regulated by the hydration level of the cutin-rich outer cuticular layer. We further report artificial nanocomposite membranes that are inspired by the cuticles’ compositionally graded architecture and consist of hydrophilic cellulose nanocrystals and a hydrophobic polymer. The structure and composition of these cuticle-inspired membranes can easily be varied and this enables a systematic investigation of the water transport mechanism.
CitationKamtsikakis, A. [et al.]. Asymmetric water transport in dense leaf cuticles and cuticle-inspired compositionally graded membranes. "Nature communications", Desembre 2021, vol. 12, núm. 1, p. 1267/1-1267/11.