Involvement of the plant antioxidative response in the differential growth sensitivity to salinity of leaves vs roots during cell development

Nirit Bernstein, Michal Shoresh, Yan Xu, Bingru Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Sensitivity to salinity varies between plant organs and between cells of different developmental stages within a single organ. The physiological and molecular bases for the differential responses are not known. Exposure of plants to salinity is known to induce formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are involved in damage mechanisms but also in cell growth processes. The objective of this study was to elucidate developmental-stage-specific and organ-specific involvement of oxidative defense in the plant response to salinity in maize (Zea mays L.). Plants were grown in nutrient solution containing 1. mM NaCl (control) or 80. mM NaCl. The oxidative stress response and damage symptoms along the cell developmental gradient in growing and mature tissue of leaves and roots were examined. Unlike leaves, roots did not suffer oxidative damage in either growing or mature cells and demonstrated reduced antioxidant response. This may reflect different requirements of ROS for growth mechanisms of leaf and root cells. In leaves, growing tissue demonstrated higher stimulation of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity under salinity than mature tissue, whereas mature tissue demonstrated higher stimulation of catalase. These results indicate differential roles for these ROS-scavenging enzymes at different cell developmental stages. Because ROS are required for cell expansion, the higher increase in SOD and APX activities in the growing leaf cells that resulted in reduction of ROS content under salinity could lead to the inhibition of cell growth under salinity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1161-1171
Number of pages11
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


  • Antioxidant enzymes
  • Free radicals
  • Growing zone
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • ROS
  • Salinity
  • Zea mays


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