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Water permeability of plant cuticles: permeance, diffusion and partition coefficients

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/1986
Issue number1
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)54-60
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Using isolated cuticular membranes from ten woody and herbaceous plant species, permeance and diffusion coefficients for water were measured, and partition coefficients were calculated. The cuticular membranes of fruit had much higher permeance and diffusion coefficients than leaf cuticular membranes from either trees or herbs. Both diffusion and partition coefficients increased with increasing membrane thickness. Thin cuticles, therefore, tend to be better and more efficient water barriers than thick cuticles. We compared the diffusion coefficients and the water content of cuticles as calculated from transport measurements with those obtained from water vapor sorption. There is good to fair agreement for cuticular membranes with a low water content, but large discrepancies appear for polymer matrix membranes with high permeance. This is probably due to the fact that diffusion coefficients obtained from transport measurements on membranes with high permeance and water content are underestimated. Water permeabilities of polyethylene and polypropylene membranes are similar to those of leaf cuticular membranes. However, leaf cuticles have much lower diffusion coefficients and a much greater water content than these synthetic polymers. This suggests that cuticles are primarily mobility barriers as far as water transport is concerned.