Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 31–40 | Cite as

Capacity to control oxidative stress-induced caspase-like activity determines the level of tolerance to salt stress in two contrasting maize genotypes

  • Marshall Keyster
  • Ashwil Klein
  • Morné Du Plessis
  • Alex Jacobs
  • Abidemi Kappo
  • Gábor Kocsy
  • Gábor Galiba
  • Ndiko Ludidi
Original Paper


The response of two maize (Zea mays L.) genotypes, named GR (salt-tolerant) and SK (salt-sensitive), to salt stress (150 mM NaCl) was investigated under controlled environmental growth conditions. Genotype SK experienced more oxidative damage than the GR genotype when subjected to salt stress, which corresponded to higher O2 production rate and H2O2 content in the SK genotype than the GR genotype. Induction of caspase-like activity in response to salt stress was stronger in the SK genotype than in the GR genotype. On the other hand, induction of antioxidant enzyme activity to scavenge O2 and H2O2 in response to salt stress was weaker in the SK genotype than in the GR genotype. Consequently, the higher level of oxidative damage in the SK genotype in response to salt stress was manifested as more extensive cell death and biomass reduction in the SK genotype than it was in the GR genotype. Our results suggest that a direct relationship exists between salt stress-induced oxidative damage and cell death-inducing caspase-like activity, with tolerance to the salt stress being controlled by the efficiency of the plant antioxidant enzymes in limiting salt stress-induced oxidative damage and thus limiting cell death-inducing caspase-like activity.


Antioxidant enzymes Caspase-like activity Cell death Salt stress Oxidative stress Lipid peroxidation 





Analysis of variance


Ascorbate peroxidase


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Dry weight




Glutathione peroxidase




2-(N-Morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


Phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride


Reactive oxygen species


Sodium dodecyl sulphate


Superoxide dismutase


Trichloroacetic acid







This work was supported by the University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, the National Research Foundation (South Africa) and the National Office for Research and Technology (Hungary).

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marshall Keyster
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ashwil Klein
    • 1
  • Morné Du Plessis
    • 2
  • Alex Jacobs
    • 1
  • Abidemi Kappo
    • 2
  • Gábor Kocsy
    • 3
  • Gábor Galiba
    • 3
  • Ndiko Ludidi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institute for Plant BiotechnologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  3. 3.Agricultural Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Center for Agricultural ResearchMartonvásárHungary

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