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Nanoscale Studies of Plant Protective Membranes

James D. Batteas1,2 and Ruth E. Stark1

1Department of Chemistry, CUNY-College of Staten Island and Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314 and 2Surface and Microanalysis Science Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Drive MS 8372, Gaithersburg, MD 20899.

Surface and interfacial studies of the cuticular layers of plants have been conducted using a combination of scanned probe microscopy (SPM) and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Here we have developed measurement protocols for the investigation of plant cuticular membranes allowing for the assessment of local nanomechanical properties of the outermost surface, in situ probing of surface structure, and the investigation of the molecular dynamics of the membrane components as a function of various environmental conditions including uptake of water, and agrochemicals as well as the thermal-mechanical properties of surface bound lipids. These investigations are aimed at evaluating at the nanoscale the changes in cuticular integrity, which can impact pathogenic invasion. Future directions include development of the means for nanoscale chemical mapping of cuticular membranes.

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