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Chemical composition of epicuticular wax crystals on the slippery zone in pitchers of five Nepenthes species and hybrids

TitleChemical composition of epicuticular wax crystals on the slippery zone in pitchers of five Nepenthes species and hybrids
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsRiedel, M, Eichner, A, Meimberg, H, Jetter, R
JournalPlanta
Volume225
Pagination1517-1534
Date PublishedMay
ISBN Number0032-0935
Abstract

Plants of the carnivorous genus Nepenthes efficiently trap insects in leaf pitchers, mostly employing epicuticular wax crystals on the pitcher walls to make them slippery for the prey. In the present study, the compositions and micromorphologies of the wax crystals of five Nepenthes species and hybrids were analysed in order to test whether the chemical principles underlying this ecological function are widespread within the genus. Three wax layers could be distinguished within the Nepenthes pitcher cuticles: (1) the outermost part of the crystals forming the platelets visible in standard scanning electron microscopy, (2) the bottom portion of the epicuticular wax crystals, and (3) an intracuticular wax layer. The composition of the intracuticular wax differed significantly from that of the neighbouring epicuticular layer. The compositions of corresponding wax mixtures from all five Nepenthes species and hybrids were very similar, with almost equal amounts of very long chain aldehydes and primary alcohols. While triacontanal (C-30 aldehyde) was prevailing in the epicuticular crystals of Nepenthes albomarginata and Nepenthes x intermedia, Nepenthes x superba and Nepenthes x henriana were found to have especially high percentages of dotriacontanal (C-32 aldehyde). Nepenthes "khasiana" had an intermediate aldehyde composition with almost equal amounts of both chain lengths.

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