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Chitosan enhances leaf membrane stability and antioxidant enzyme activities in apple seedlings under drought stress

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Abstract

Chitosan is a cationic marine polysaccharide with unique bioactive properties that make it an effective scavenger of reactive oxygen species. Chitosan application has been suggested as an aid for reducing oxidative injury caused by drought stress in crop plants. In order to confirm the antioxidant effects of exogenous chitosan, cell membrane stability and antioxidant enzyme activities were analyzed in leaves of apple seedlings placed under a period of drought stress. Pretreatment of apple seedling leaves with chitosan solution (20, 50, 100, 150 and 200 mg l−1) prior to drought stress significantly decreased electrolyte leakage and the production of malondialdehyde in the leaves, while increasing antioxidant enzyme activities (superoxide dismutase, catalase), following imposition of drought stress conditions. An optimum response was obtained at a chitosan concentration of 100 mg l−1. When apple seedlings were pretreated with 100 mg l−1 of chitosan, cell membrane stability and antioxidant enzyme activities were enhanced for 21 days of drought treatment. Following restoration of moisture and a repeated drought stress, similar results were obtained on day 35. It is proposed that chitosan may act as an exogenous antioxidant that enhances resistance to oxidative stress during drought.

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Abbreviations

CAT:

Catalase

DS:

Drought stress

EL:

Electrolyte leakage

FW:

Fresh weight

MDA:

Malonaldehyde

ROS:

Reactive oxygen species

SOD:

Superoxide dismutase

WW:

Well watered

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to professor Mrs. Marilyn White (Brigham Young University, USA) for the critical reading of the manuscript. Illuminating comments from the chief editor and anonymous reviewers are also appreciated. This research was mainly supported by “The National High Technology Research and Development Program (“863”Program) of China (2007AA10Z231)” and “The National Key Fund Project (30230230)”.

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Correspondence to Jianlong Li.

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Yang, F., Hu, J., Li, J. et al. Chitosan enhances leaf membrane stability and antioxidant enzyme activities in apple seedlings under drought stress. Plant Growth Regul 58, 131–136 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10725-009-9361-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10725-009-9361-4

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