Plant and Soil

, Volume 237, Issue 1, pp 55–61 | Cite as

Antioxidative and growth-promoting effect of selenium on senescing lettuce

  • Tailin Xue
  • Helinä HartikainenEmail author
  • Vieno Piironen


In human and animal cells, Se plays an essential role in antioxidation and exerts an antiaging function but it is toxic at high dietary intake. To increase its intake in forage and foodstuffs, Se fertilization is adopted in some countries where soils are low in bioavailable Se, even though higher plants are regarded not to require Se. To test its ability to counteract senescence-related oxidative stress in higher plants, a pot experiment was carried out with lettuce (Lactuca sativa) cultivated with increasing amounts of H2SeO4. The yields harvested 7 or 14 weeks after sowing revealed that a low Se dosage (0.1 mg kg−1 soil) stimulated the growth of senescing seedlings (dry weight yield by 14%) despite a decreased chlorophyll concentration. The growth-promoting function was related to diminished lipid peroxidation. In young and senescing plants, the antioxidative effect of Se was associated with the increased activity of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px). In the senescing plants, the added Se strengthened the antioxidative capacity also by preventing the reduction of tocopherol concentration and by enhancing superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. When no Se was added, tocopherols and SOD activity diminished during plant senescence. The higher Se dosage (1.0 mg kg−1 soil) was toxic and reduced the yield of young plants. In the senescing plants, it diminished the dry weight yield but not the fresh weight yield.

antioxidant GSH-Px lettuce selenium senescence SOD tocopherol 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arnon D I 1949 Copper enzyme in isolated chloroplasts: Polyphenol oxidase in Beta vulgaris. Plant Physiol. 24, 1–15.Google Scholar
  2. Behne D, Kyriakopoulos A, Kalcklosch M, Weiss-Nowak C, Pfeifer H, Gessner H and Hammel C 1997 Two new selenoproteins found in the prostatic glandular epithelium and in the spermatid nuclei. Biomed. Environ. Sci. 10, 340–345.Google Scholar
  3. Berry M J, Banu L, Chen Y, Mandel S J, Kieffer J D, Harney J W and Larsen P R 1991 Recognition of UGA as a selenocysteine codon in Type I deiodinase requires sequences in the 3′ untranslated region. Nature 353, 273–276.Google Scholar
  4. Braun T A and Shrift A 1982 Selenium: Toxicity and tolerance in higher plants. Biol. Rev. 57, 59–84.Google Scholar
  5. Douillet C, Bost M, Accominotti M, Borson-Chazot F and Ciavatti M 1998 Effect of selenium and vitamin E supplements on tissue lipids, peroxides, and fatty acid distribution in experimental diabetes. Lipids 33, 393–399.Google Scholar
  6. Ekholm P, Ylinen M, Koivistoinen P and Varo P 1995 Selenium concentration of Finnish foods: Effect of reducing the amount of selenate in fertilizers. Agric. Sci. Finland 4, 377–384.Google Scholar
  7. Elstner E 1991 Mechanisms of oxygen activation in different compartments of plant cells. In Active Oxygen/Oxidative Stress and Plant Metabolism Series Vol 6. Eds. Pell E and Steffen K L. pp 13–25. American Society of Plant Physiologists, Rockville, USA.Google Scholar
  8. Eustice D C, Kull F J and Schrift A 1981 Selenium toxicity: Aminoacylation and peptide bond formation with selenomethionine. Plant Physiol. 67, 1054–1058.Google Scholar
  9. Flohe L and Gunzler W A 1984 Assays of glutathione peroxidase. In Methods in Enzymology. Vol. 105. Ed. Packer L. pp 114–121. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Giannopolitis C N and Ries S K 1977 Superoxide dismutases: I Occurrence in higher plants. Plant Physiol. 59, 309–314.Google Scholar
  11. Gladyshev V N, Jeang K T, Wootton J C and Hatfield D L 1998 A new human selenium-containing protein: Purification, characterization, and cDNA sequence. J. Biol. Chem. 273, 8910–8915.Google Scholar
  12. Hanson A D and Kende H 1975 Ethylene enhanced ion and sucrose efflux in morning glory flower tissue. Plant Physiol. 55, 663–669.Google Scholar
  13. Hartikainen H, Ekholm P, Piironen V, Xue T, Koivu T and Yli-Halla M 1997 Quality of the ryegrass and lettuce yields as affected by selenium fertilization. Agr. Food Sci. Finland 6, 381–387.Google Scholar
  14. Hartikainen H and Xue T 1999 The promotive effect of selenium on plant growth as triggered by ultraviolet irradiation. J. Environm. Qual. 28, 1372–1375.Google Scholar
  15. Hartikainen H, Xue T and Piironen V 2000 Selenium as an antioxidant and pro-oxidant in ryegrass. Plant Soil 225, 193–200.Google Scholar
  16. Hogue D E, Proctor J F, Warner R G and Loosli J K 1962 Relation of selenium, vitamin E and an unidentified factor to muscular dystrophy (stiff-lamb or white muscle disease) in the lamb. J. Anim. Sci. 21, 25–29.Google Scholar
  17. Konze J R, Schilling N and Kende H 1978 Enhancement of ethylene formation by selenoamino acids. Plant Physiol. 62, 397–401.Google Scholar
  18. Kumpulainen J, Raittila A-M, Lehto J and Koivistoinen P 1983 Electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometric determination of selenium in foods and diets. J Assoc. Official Anal. Chem. 66, 1129–1135.Google Scholar
  19. Murphy J B and Kies M W 1960 Note on spectrophotometer determination of proteins in dilute solution. Bioch. Biophys. Acta 45, 382–384.Google Scholar
  20. Muth O H 1963 White muscle disease, a selenium responsive myopathy. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 142, 272–277.Google Scholar
  21. O'Toole D and Raisbeck M F 1998 Magic numbers, elusive lesions: Comparative pathology and toxicology of selenosis in waterfowl and mammalian species. In Environmental Chemistry of Selenium. Eds. Frankenberger W T Jr. and Engberg R A. pp 355–395. Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York.Google Scholar
  22. Pallud S, Lennon A M, Ramauge M, Gavaret J M, Croteau W, Pierre M, Courtin F and St Germain D L 1997 Expression of the type II iodothyronine deiodinase in cultured rat astrocytes is seleniumdependent. J. Biol. Chem. 272, 18104–18110.Google Scholar
  23. Ramauge M Pallud S, Esfandiari A, Gavaret J, Lennon A, Pierre M and Courtin F 1996 Evidence the type III iodothyronine deiodinase in rat astrocyte is a selenoprotein. Endocrinology 137, 3021–3025.Google Scholar
  24. Rotruck J T, Pope A H, Ganther H E, Swanson A B, Hafeman D G and Hoekstra W G 1973 Selenium: biochemical role as a component of glutathione peroxidase. Science 179, 588–590.Google Scholar
  25. Schultz G, Heintze A, Hoppe P, Hagelstein P, Görlach J, Meereis K, Schwanke U and Preiss M 1991 Tocopherol and carotenoid synthesis in chloroplasts: Tight linkage to plastidic carbon metabolism in developing chloroplasts. In Active Oxygen/Oxidative Stress and Plant Metabolism, Series Vol. 6. Eds. E Pell and K L Steffen. pp. 156–170. American Society of Plant Physiologists, Rockville, USA.Google Scholar
  26. Schwartz K and Foltz C M 1957 Selenium as an integral part of factor 3 against dietary necrotic liver degeration. J. Am Chem. Soc. 79, 3292–3293.Google Scholar
  27. Stadtman T C 1974 Se biochemistry: Proteins containing Se are essential components of certain bacterial and mammalian enzyme systems. Science 183, 915–922.Google Scholar
  28. Tamura T and Stadtman T C 1996 A new selenoprotein from human lung adenocarcinoma cells: Purification, properties, and thioredoxin reductase activity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 1006–1011.Google Scholar
  29. Terry N, Carlson C, Raab T K and Zayed A M 1992 Rates of selenium volatilization among crop species. J Environ Qual 21, 341–344.Google Scholar
  30. Terry N and Zayed A M 1994 Selenium volatilization by plants. In Selenium in Environment. Eds. Frankenberger W T Jr and Benson S. pp 343–367. Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Thompson J E, Legge R I and Barber R F 1987 The role of free radicals in senescence and wounding. New Physiol. 105, 317–344.Google Scholar
  32. Thompson J E, Mayak S, Shimitsky m and Halevy A H. 1982. Acceleration of membrane senescence in cut carnation flowers by treatment with ethylene. Plant Physiol. 69, 859–863.Google Scholar
  33. Vangronsveld J, Weckx J, Kubaka-Zebalska M and Clijters H 1993 Heavy metal induction of ethylene production and stress enzymes: II Is ethylene involved in the signal transduction from stress perception to stress responses? In Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Plant Hormone Ethylene. Eds. Pech J C, Latché A and Balagué C. pp 240–246. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  34. Van Der Werf A, Raaimakers D, Poot P and Lambers H 1991 Evidence for a significant contribution by peroxidase-mediated O2 uptake to root respiration of Brachypodium pinnatum. Planta 183, 347–352.Google Scholar
  35. Whanger P D, Vendeland S C, Gu Q P, Beilstein M A and Ream L W 1997 Selenoprotein W cDNAs from five species of animals. Biomed. Environ. Sci. 10, 190–197.Google Scholar
  36. Xue T and Hartikainen H 2000 Association of antioxidative enzymes with the synergistic effect of selenium and UV irradiation in enhancing plant growth. Agric. Food Sci. Finland 9, 177–186.Google Scholar
  37. Xue T, Piironen V and Hartikainen H 1997 A small scale HPLC method for the determination of α-tocopherol in fresh plant tissues. Agribiol. Res. 50, 265–270.Google Scholar
  38. Yagi K 1982 Lipid Peroxides in Biology and Medicine. pp 223–230. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  39. Yläranta T 1985 Increasing the Selenium Content of Cereal and Grass Crops in Finland. Academic dissertation, University of Helsinki. Helsinki: Yliopistopaino. 72 p. Section editor: A.A. Meharg Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tailin Xue
    • 1
  • Helinä Hartikainen
    • 2
    Email author
  • Vieno Piironen
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Applied Chemistry and MicrobiologyUniversity of HelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Applied Chemistry and MicrobiologyUniversity of HelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations