Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology



First Advisor

Basil J. Nikolau


The aerial surfaces of plants are covered with a waxy coating called the cuticle. The cuticle plays a vital role by preventing excessive water loss and acts as the front line of defense against pathogen ingress. The cuticle is comprised of very long chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) and their aliphatic derivatives, which include alkanes, primary and secondary alcohols, wax esters, and ketones. These lipid compounds are synthesized by one of two pathways: the reductive pathway, which generates primary alcohols and wax esters, and the hydrocarbon pathway that synthesizes alkanes and the derivatives, such as secondary alcohols and ketones. Genetic studies in Arabidopsis have provided insights, particularly into the hydrocarbon pathway, with the molecular characterization of such genes as CER1 and CER3. Zea mays is a complementary system to further dissect cuticular lipid biosynthesis, particularly as it’s leaf cuticle is composed primarily of products of the reductive pathway. An extensive collection of glossy mutants that affect the normal deposition of the cuticle has been amassed since the early 1930s, and some of these (glossy1, glossy2, glossy8, glossy4) have been molecularly characterized. This study is focused on the characterization of 6 glossy1-homologs that we have identified by scanning the sequenced maize genome. These proteins have been expressed in heterologous systems (Arabidopsis), and the effect of expressing each transgene is being evaluated by lipidomic analyses.


Copyright Owner

Jennifer Chmielowski



File Format


File Size

101 pages

Included in

Biochemistry Commons