, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 203–214 | Cite as

Leaf gas exchange and multiple enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant strategies related to drought tolerance in two oil palm hybrids

  • Priscilla A. Silva
  • Igor V. Oliveira
  • Kátia C. B. Rodrigues
  • Vanessa S. Cosme
  • Abel J. R. Bastos
  • Kelly S. C. Detmann
  • Roberto L. Cunha
  • Reginaldo A. Festucci-Buselli
  • Fábio M. DaMatta
  • Hugo A. PinheiroEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Drought Stress


Key message

The drought tolerance in young oil palm plants is related to greater efficiency in preventing oxidative damage by activating enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant strategies simultaneously.


Drought is a major environmental constraint limiting growth and yield of oil palm trees. In this study, two oil palm hybrids (BRS Manicoré and BRS C 2501) were grown in large containers and subjected to a water deficit during 57 days. Leaf gas exchange analysis was combined with an in-depth assessment of the antioxidant system over the drought imposition. Under drought, leaf water potential at predawn (Ψ pd) decreased similarly in both hybrids. In parallel, there were decreases in the net CO2 assimilation rate (A), chlorophyll concentrations and Rubisco total activity. Overall, these decreases were more pronounced in BRS C 2501 than in BRS Manicoré. BRS C 2501 plants triggered more markedly its enzymatic antioxidant system earlier (Ψ pd = −2.1 MPa) than did BRS Manicoré, but these responses were accompanied by higher concentrations of H2O2 and malondialdehyde in BRS C 2510 than in BRS Manicoré. With the progress of drought stress (Ψ pd = −2.9 MPa and below), BRS Manicoré was better able to cope with oxidative stress through a more robust antioxidant system. In addition, significant decreases in drought-induced NAD+-malate dehydrogenase activities were only observed in stressed BRS C 2501 plants. Regardless of watering regimes, the total carotenoid, ascorbate and glutathione concentrations were higher in BRS Manicoré than in BRS C 2501. In conclusion, BRS Manicoré is better able to tolerate drought than BRS C 2501 by triggering multiple antioxidant strategies involved both in reactive oxygen species scavenging and dissipation of excess energy and/or reducing equivalents particularly under severe drought stress.


Antioxidant enzymes Antioxidant compounds Elaeis guineensis Elaeis oleifera Water deficit 



This research was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq, Brazil, Grant 478239/2012-2) to H.A. Pinheiro and F.M. DaMatta (CNPq, Brazil, Grant 308652/2014-2). The scholarships were granted by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level—or Education—Personnel (CAPES; Brazil, P.A. Silva and I.V. Oliveira) and CNPQ (A.J.R. Bastos, K.C.B. Rodrigues and V.S. Cosme). The authors also thank the valuable contribution of Dr. Izildinha de Souza Miranda while performing the statistical analyses employed in this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Priscilla A. Silva
    • 1
  • Igor V. Oliveira
    • 1
  • Kátia C. B. Rodrigues
    • 1
  • Vanessa S. Cosme
    • 1
  • Abel J. R. Bastos
    • 1
  • Kelly S. C. Detmann
    • 2
  • Roberto L. Cunha
    • 3
  • Reginaldo A. Festucci-Buselli
    • 1
  • Fábio M. DaMatta
    • 2
  • Hugo A. Pinheiro
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro de Tecnologia Agropecuária, Instituto Socioambiental e dos Recursos HídricosUniversidade Federal Rural da AmazôniaBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia VegetalUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  3. 3.Embrapa Amazônia OrientalBelémBrazil

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