Cuticle characteristics and volatile emissions of petals in Antirrhinum majus

S. Mark Goodwin, Natalia Kolosova, Christine M. Kish, Karl V. Wood, Natalia Dudareva, Matthew A. Jenks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Floral volatiles, which are small and generally water-insoluble, must move from their intracellular sites of synthesis through the outermost cuticle membrane before release from the flower surface. To determine whether petal cuticle might influence volatile emissions, we performed the first analysis of petal cuticle development and its association with the emission of flower volatiles using Antirrhinum majus L. (snapdragon) as a model system. Petal cuticular wax amount and composition, cuticle thickness and nitrastructure, and the amounts of internal and emitted methylbenzoate (the major snapdragon floral scent compound) were examined during 12 days, from flower opening to senescence. Normal (n-) alkunes were found to be the major wax class of snapdragon petals (29.0% to 34.3%) throughout the 12 days examined. Besides n-alkanes, snapdragon petals possessed significant amounts of methyl branched alkanes (23.6-27.8%) and hydroxy esters (12.0-14.0%). Hydroxy esters have not been previously reported in plants. Changes in amount of methylbenzoate inside the petals followed closely with levels of methylbenzoate emission, suggesting that snapdragon petal cuticle may provide little diffusive resistance to volatile emissions. Moreover, clear associations did not exist between methylbenzoate emission and the cuticle properties examined during development. Nevertheless, the unique wax composition of snapdragon petal cuticles shows similarities with those of other highly permeable cuticles, suggesting an adaptation that could permit rapid volatile emission by scented flowers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-443
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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