Cutin and cutan biopolymers: Their role as natural sorbents

Michal Shechter, Baoshan Xing, Benny Chefetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The aliphatic biopolymers cutin and cutan are important precursors of soil organic matter. In this study, we examined the effects of these biopolymers' decomposition and transformation in the soil on their sorptive properties. The levels of cutin and cutan decreased by 35 and 30%, respectively, after 20 mo of incubation. Carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance and differential scanning calorimeter analyses suggested that the rigid (crystalline) polymethylene moieties of cutan decompose with time. This observation is in contrast to previous reports, which suggested that this alkyl-C moiety is resistant to biodegradation. Cutin, however, exhibited mainly decomposition of the mobile (amorphous) polymethylene moieties. Moreover, some of its degraded materials were transformed into humic materials. The phenanthrene sorption coefficient decreased by 80 and 37% with incubation time of the cutin and cutan samples, respectively. For 1-naphthol, the sorption capacity decreased by 90% due to cutin decomposition. With cutan, this parameter did not show any changes correlated with incubation time. Phenanthrene exhibited linear and reversible sorption isotherms. In contrast, pronounced desorption hysteresis was obtained for 1-naphthol with the 20-mo-incubated cutin sample and with all cutan samples. With all cutan samples, desorption hysteresis increased with decomposition. Our data suggest that the sorptive nature of both biopolymers was affected by soil decomposition. With degradation, the role of cutin as a natural sorbent decreases while cutan acts as a natural highly efficient sorbent for organic compounds in the soil.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1139-1146
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Cutin and cutan biopolymers: Their role as natural sorbents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this