Leaf cuticular wax amount and crystal morphology regulate post-harvest water loss in mulberry (Morus species)

H. M. Mamrutha, T. Mogili, K. Jhansi Lakshmi, N. Rama, Dylan Kosma, M. Udaya Kumar, Matthew A. Jenks, Karaba N. Nataraja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Mulberry leaves are the sole source of food for silkworms (Bombyx mori), and moisture content of the detached leaves fed to silkworms determines silkworm growth and cocoon yield. Since leaf dehydration in commercial sericulture is a serious problem, development of new methods that minimize post-harvest water loss are greatly needed. In the present study, variability in moisture retention capacity (MRC, measured as leaf relative water content after one to 5 h of air-drying) was examined by screening 290 diverse mulberry accessions and the relationship between MRC and leaf surface (cuticular) wax amount was determined. Leaf MRC varied significantly among accessions, and was found to correlate strongly with leaf wax amount. Scanning electron microscopic analysis indicated that leaves having crystalline surface waxes of increased facet size and density were associated with high MRC accessions. Leaf MRC at 5 h after harvest was not related to other parameters such as specific leaf weight, and stomatal frequency and index. This study suggests that mulberry accessions having elevated leaf surface wax amount and crystal size and density exhibit reduced leaf post-harvest water loss, and could provide the foundation for selective breeding of improved cultivars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-696
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Leaf surface wax amount
  • Moisture retention capacity
  • Mulberry
  • Wax crystal morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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