, Volume 252, Issue 3, pp 911–924 | Cite as

Salicylic acid alleviates cadmium-induced inhibition of growth and photosynthesis through upregulating antioxidant defense system in two melon cultivars (Cucumis melo L.)

  • Yongping Zhang
  • Shuang Xu
  • Shaojun Yang
  • Youyuan Chen
Original Article


Cadmium (Cd) is a widespread toxic heavy metal that usually causes deleterious effects on plant growth and development. Salicylic acid (SA), a naturally existing phenolic compound, is involved in specific responses to various environmental stresses. To explore the role of SA in the tolerance of melon (Cucumis melo L.) to Cd stress, the influence of SA application on the growth and physiological processes was compared in the two melon cultivars Hamilv (Cd-tolerant) and Xiulv (Cd-sensitive) under Cd stress. Under 400-μM Cd treatment, Hamilv showed a higher biomass accumulation, more chlorophyll (Chl), greater photosynthesis, and less oxidative damage compared to Xiulv. Foliar spraying of 0.1 mM SA dramatically alleviated Cd-induced growth inhibition in the two melon genotypes. Simultaneously, SA pretreatment attenuated the decrease in Chl content, photosynthetic capacity, and PSII photochemistry efficiency in Cd-stressed plants. Furthermore, exogenous SA significantly reduced superoxide anion production and lipid peroxidation, followed by increase in the activities of antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, guaiacol peroxidase, catalase, and ascorbate peroxidase, and content of soluble protein and free proline in both the genotypes under Cd stress. The effect of SA was more conspicuous in Xiulv than Hamilv, reflected in the biomass, photosynthetic pigments, stomatal conductance, water use efficiency, and antioxidant enzymes. These results suggest that exogenous spray of SA can alleviate the adverse effects of Cd on the growth and photosynthesis of both the melon cultivars, mostly through promoting antioxidant defense capacity. It also indicates that SA-included protection against Cd damage is to a greater extent more pronounced in Cd-sensitive genotype than Cd-tolerant genotype.


Antioxidant enzymes Cadmium Oxidative stress Photosynthesis Proline Salicylic acid Two cultivars 



We are grateful for funding supported by Shanghai Committee of Science and Technology, China (Grant No. 123919N1800), Minhang District of Shanghai Science and Technology (Grant No. 2012MH102), Shanghai Melon Industrial System and Shanghai Scientific and Technological Projects: Disease-Resistance and High-Quality of Melon Seeds of New Varieties for Scale Production Research and Demonstration (14391900900), and Open Fund of Shanghai Key Lab of Protected Horticultural Technology.

Supplementary material

709_2014_732_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary Table S1 (DOC 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongping Zhang
    • 1
  • Shuang Xu
    • 1
  • Shaojun Yang
    • 1
  • Youyuan Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Horticultural Research Institute and Shanghai Key Lab of Protected Horticultural TechnologyShanghai Academy of Agricultural SciencesShanghaiChina

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