Treatment with salicylic acid decreases the effect of cadmium on photosynthesis in maize plants

Alexander Krantev, Rusina Yordanova, Tibor Janda, Gabriella Szalai, Losanka Popova

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The present study investigated the possible mediatory role of salicylic acid (SA) in protecting photosynthesis from cadmium (Cd) toxicity. Seeds of maize (Zea mays L., hybrid Norma) were sterilized and divided into two groups. Half of the seeds were presoaked in 500 μM SA solution for only 6 h, after which both groups were allowed to germinate for 3 d and were then grown for 14 d in Hoagland solution at 22/18 °C in a 16/8-h light/dark period and 120 μmol m-2 s-1 PAR. All seedlings (without H2O and SA controls) were transferred to Cd-containing solutions (10, 15, and 25 μM) and grown for 14 d. The rate of CO2 fixation and the activity of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBPC, EC and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC, EC were measured. Changes in the levels of several important parameters associated with oxidative stress, namely H2O2 and proline production, lipid peroxidation, electrolyte leakage, and the activities of antioxidative enzymes (superoxide dismutase (SOD, EC, ascorbate peroxidase (APX, EC, catalase (CAT, EC, and guaiacol peroxidase (POD, EC were measured. Exposure of the plants to Cd caused a gradual decrease in the shoot and root dry weight accumulation, with the effect being most pronounced at 25 μM Cd. Seed pretreatment with SA alleviated the negative effect of Cd on plant growth parameters. The same tendency was observed for the chlorophyll level. The rate of CO2 fixation was lower in Cd-treated plants, and the inhibition was partially overcome in SA-pretreated plants. A drop in the activities of RuBPC and PEPC was observed for Cd-treated plants. Pretreatment with SA alleviated the inhibitory effect of Cd on enzyme activity. Proline production and the rates of lipid peroxidation and electrolyte leakage increased in Cd-treated plants, whereas the values of these parameters were much lower in SA-pretreated plants. Treatment of plants with Cd decreased APX activity, but more than doubled SOD activity. Pretreatment with SA caused an increase in both APX and SOD activity, but caused a strong reduction in CAT activity. The data suggest that SA may protect cells against oxidative damage and photosynthesis against Cd toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-931
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 16 2008


  • Antioxidative enzymes
  • Cadmium
  • Photosynthesis
  • Salicylic acid
  • Zea mays L.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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