Scanning electron micrograph of epidermal cells of Arabidopsis petals showing characteristic nanoridges formed by the cuticle. Picture taken by Antonio Mucciolo, EMF, UNIL
The Plant Cuticle
Land plants have to protect themselves against hostile environmental conditions, in particular against water loss in a low humidity environment, including during drought stress. The cuticle is a specialized extracellular matrix covering numerous above-ground organs, including leaves, fruits and floral organs. It plays an essential role as an apoplastic diffusion barrier protecting plants against abiotic stresses. In addition, the cuticle regulates the fluxes of signal molecules important for the communication with microorganisms and insects and gives mechanical strength to the surface of epidermal cells.