Cuticular waxes form the primary interface between a plant and its external environment. The most important function of this hydrophobic interface is regulation of non-stomatal water loss, gas exchange and conferring resistance to a wide range of biotic as well as abiotic stresses. The biosynthesis, transport and deposition of the cuticular waxes are tightly coordinated by complex molecular networks, which are also often regulated in response to various developmental, biotic as well as abiotic cues. Evidences from model as well as non-model systems suggest that targeted manipulation of the molecular regulators of wax biosynthetic pathways could enhance plant resistance to multiple stresses as well as enhance the post-harvest quality of produce. Under the current scenario of varying climatic conditions, where plants often encounter multiple stress conditions, cuticular waxes is an appropriate trait to be considered for crop improvement programs, as any attempt to improve cuticular traits would be advantageous to the crop to enhance its adaptability to diverse adverse conditions. This chapter briefs on the significance of cuticular waxes in plants, its biosynthesis, transport and deposition, its implication on plant resistance to adverse conditions, and the current options in targeted manipulation of wax-traits for breeding new crop types.
Part of the book: Abiotic and Biotic Stress in Plants