Nitric oxide improves thermotolerance in spring maize by inducing varied genotypic defense mechanisms

  • Khushdeep Kaur
  • Kamaljit Kaur
Original Article


The investigation aimed at determining the effect of nitric oxide on antioxidant defense system of spring maize (Zea mays L.) genotypes namely, LM 11 (stress susceptible) and CML 32 (stress tolerant), that showed differential tolerance towards heat stress. Seed priming with a NO donor, sodium nitroprusside (SNP) improved seedling growth and induced varied defense mechanisms, under stress conditions. 75 μM SNP improved seedling lengths and their biomasses. It specifically enhanced catalase (CAT) activity in the roots of stressed seedlings of the two genotypes. However, it could induce CAT activity only in LM 11 shoots, under heat stress. It also enhanced peroxidase (POX) activity in CML 32 roots. However, such induction of POX activity with SNP treatment was not observed in LM 11 roots. This showed that NO increased the H2O2 scavenging efficiency of CML 32 genotype by enhancing the cumulative activation of CAT and POX in its roots. However, it did not induce activation of any of the H2O2 detoxifying enzymes in CML 32 shoots which showed that ascorbate–glutathione cycle remained non-operational in shoots of SNP-treated seedlings of the tolerant genotype, under high temperature stress. With seed priming, superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity increased in both the tissues of LM 11 seedlings. The shoots of SNP primed CML 32 seedlings, however, did not show any effect on SOD activity which illustrated that nitric oxide might act as a direct scavenger of superoxide radicals in CML 32 seedlings. SNP decreased the contents of H2O2 and MDA and increased proline content in seedlings of both the genotypes indicating reduced oxidative damage. The results thus showed that nitric oxide might induce different mechanisms of stress tolerance in these maize genotypes.


Spring maize Temperature stress Antioxidant response Sodium nitroprusside 



We are grateful to Dr. Gurjit Kaur Gill, Sr. Maize Breeder, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, for providing maize genotypes for this investigation.


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryPunjab Agricultural UniversityLudhianaIndia

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