Fernandez Fernandez, Victoria and Sancho-Knapik, Domingo and Guzmán Delgado, Paula and Peguero Pina, Jose Javier and Gil Sanchez, Luis and Karabourniotis, George and Khayet, Mohamed and Fasseas, Costas and Heredia-Guerrero, José Alejandro and Heredia, Antonio and Gil Pelegrín, E.
Wettability, polarity and water absorption of Quercus ilex leaves: effect of leaf side and age.
"Plant Physiology", v. 166
Plant trichomes play important protective functions and may have a major influence on leaf surface wettability. With the aim of gaining insight into trichome structure, composition and function in relation to water-plant surface interactions, we analyzed the adaxial and abaxial leaf surface of Quercus ilex L. (holm oak) as model. By measuring the leaf water potential 24 h after the deposition of water drops on to abaxial and adaxial surfaces, evidence for water penetration through the upper leaf side was gained in young and mature leaves. The structure and chemical composition of the abaxial (always present) and adaxial (occurring only in young leaves) trichomes were analyzed by various microscopic and analytical procedures. The adaxial surfaces were wettable and had a high degree of water drop adhesion in contrast to the highly unwettable and water repellent abaxial holm oak leaf sides. The surface free energy, polarity and solubility parameter decreased with leaf age, with generally higher values determined for the abaxial sides. All holm oak leaf trichomes were covered with a cuticle. The abaxial trichomes were composed of 8% soluble waxes, 49% cutin, and 43% polysaccharides. For the adaxial side, it is concluded that trichomes and the scars after trichome shedding contribute to water uptake, while the abaxial leaf side is highly hydrophobic due to its high degree of pubescence and different trichome structure, composition and density. Results are interpreted in terms of water-plant surface interactions, plant surface physical-chemistry, and plant ecophysiology.