As metropolitan and industrial areas continue to grow, so do the levels of tropospheric ozone. Over the years, tropospheric ozone has been found to have detrimental effects on plant life, especially on the health of leaves. Ozone has been shown to lead to the degradation of epicuticular waxes which protect leaves from water loss, ultraviolet radiation, pathogens, and insects. This research focuses on investigating the reactions between ozone and two important molecular components of epicuticular waxes—oleanolic acid and ferulic acid. For this purpose, epicuticular waxes extracted from Olea europea and Prunus persica leaves were ozonized under humid and dry conditions and then analyzed via HPLC-QToF-MS. The results showed that both oleanolic acid and ferulic acid reacted with ozone within the epicuticular wax environment. Oleanolic acid was found to react with ozone to form a previously reported lactone product within the Olea europea leaf epicuticular wax. In addition, a new potential cross-reaction product resulting from the reaction between oleanolic acid and ferulic acid in the presence of ozone was found in the ozonized Olea europea leaf epicuticular waxes. These findings have serious implications for plant life since they provide evidence of the degradation that occurs at the molecular level when epicuticular waxes are exposed to ozone.
Huerta Navarro, V. (2018). The Effects of Ozone on Oleanolic Acid and Ferulic Acid in Leaf Epicuticular Waxes (Undergraduate honors thesis, University of Redlands). Retrieved from https://inspire.redlands.edu/cas_honors/177