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Insights into the Sorption Properties of Cutin and Cutan Biopolymers

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journal contribution
posted on 15.02.2008, 00:00 by Michal Shechter, Benny Chefetz
Plant cuticles have been reported as highly efficient sorbents for organic compounds. The objective of this study was to elucidate the sorption and desorption behavior of polar and nonpolar organic compounds with the major structural components of the plant cuticle: the biopolymers cutin and cutan. The sorption affinity values of the studied compounds followed the order: phenanthrene > atrazine > chlorotoluron > carbamazepine. A higher sorption affinity of phenanthrene and atrazine to cutin was probably due to the higher level of amorphous paraffinic carbon in this biopolymer. Phenanthrene exhibited reversible sorption behavior and a high ratio of organic-carbon-normalized distribution coefficient (KOC) to carbon-normalized octanol–water partitioning coefficients (KOWC) with both biopolymers. This suggests that both biopolymers provide phenanthrene with a partition medium for hydrophobic interactions with the flexible long alkyl-chain moieties of the biopolymers. The low KOC/KOWC ratios obtained for the polar sorbates suggest that the polar sites in the biopolymers are not accessible for sorption interactions. Atrazine and carbamazepine exhibited sorption–desorption hysteresis with both sorbents, indicating that both sorbates interact with cutin and cutan via both hydrophobic and specific interactions. In general, the sorptive properties of the studied biopolymers were similar, signifying that the active sorption sites are similar even though the biopolymers exhibit different properties.