Wax On, Wax Off

Wax On, Wax Off

Author: David Bradley

Degrading plant materials play an important role in absorbing organic pollutants in soil, according to a study by researchers in the US and Israel.

Waxy plant biopolymers can absorb organic pollutants such as naphthol and phenanthrene. Whether these biopolymers degrade to form a useful part of soil humus when a plant dies has been open to question. They may release contaminants or continue to absorb them from the soil, which will have environmental consequences. Carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry of two biopolymers, cutan and cutin, suggest that absorption is affected by decomposition.

With degradation, cutin loses its sorbent properties, while cutan remains a highly efficient sorbent of organic compounds.

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