Ex Situ Reconstitution of the Plant Biopolyester Suberin as a Film


Biopolymers often have unique properties of considerable interest as a basis for new materials. It is however not evident how to extract them from plants without destroying their chemical skeleton and inherent properties. Here we report the ex situ reconstitution of the biopolyester suberin as a new waterproof and antimicrobial material. In plant cell walls, suberin, a cross-linked network of aromatic and aliphatic monomers, builds up a hydrophobic protective and antimicrobial barrier. Recently we succeeded in extracting suberin from the plant cell wall using the ionic liquid cholinium hexanoate. During extraction the native three-dimensional structure of suberin was partially preserved. In this study, we demonstrate that this preservation is the key for its ex situ reconstitution. Without any chemical additives or purification, the suberin composing macromolecules undergo self-association on the casting surface forming a film. Suberin films obtained show barrier properties similar to those of the suberin barrier in plants, including a potentially broad bactericidal effect.



subject category

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Chemistry; Polymer Science


Garcia, H; Ferreira, R; Martins, C; Sousa, AF; Freire, CSR; Silvestre, AJD; Kunz, W; Rebelo, LPN; Pereira, CS

our authors


R.F. and A.F.S are grateful to Fundacdo para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, for the fellowships SFRH/BD/48286/2008 and SFRH/BPD/73383/2010, respectively. H.G. is indebted to Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal, for the fellowship 21-95587-B. The authors thank Dr. M. Matzapetakis (ITQB-UNL, PT) and Dr. R. Machado (IST-UTL, PT) for helping in the acquisition of NMR and zeta potential data, respectively, and Professor H. Lencastre and Dr. J. Mota, for providing the bacterial strains used in this study. We are thankful to peer-colleagues who read and critically commented on the final manuscript. The work was partially supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway through the EEA financial mechanism (PT015), by FCT through the grants Pest-OE/EQB/LA0004/2013, Pest-C/CTM/LA0011/2013, PTDC/QUI-QUI/120982/2010, PTDC/AAC-CLI/119100/2010, REDE/1517/RMN/2005, and REEQ/515/CTM/2005 POCI, and by a cooperation grant from FCT and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

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