Plant and Soil

, Volume 225, Issue 1–2, pp 193–200 | Cite as

Selenium as an anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant in ryegrass

  • Helinä Hartikainen
  • Tailin Xue
  • Vieno Piironen


Selenium is an essential element for antioxidation reactions in human and animals. In order to study its biological role in higher plants, ryegrass (Lolium perenne) was cultivated in a soil without Se or amended with increasing dosages of H2SeO4 (0.1, 1.0, 10.0 and 30.0 mg Se kg−1). Ryegrass was harvested twice and the yields were analyzed for antioxidative systems and growth parameters. Selenium exerted dual effects: At low concentrations it acted as an antioxidant, inhibiting lipid peroxidation, whereas at higher concentrations, it was a pro-oxidant, enhancing the accumulation of lipid peroxidation products. The antioxidative effect was associated with an increase in glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity, but not with superoxide dismutase (SOD) and αα-tocopherol, which was the only tocopherol detected. In the second yield, the diminished lipid peroxidation due to a proper Se addition coincided with promoted plant growth. The oxidative stress found at the Se addition level ≥ 10 mg kg−1 resulted in drastic yield losses. This result indicates that the toxicity of Se can be attributed, in addition to metabolic disturbances, to its pro-oxidative effects. Neither the growth-promoting nor the toxic effect of Se could be explained by the changes in the total chlorophyll concentration.

anti-oxidant GSH-Px pro-oxidant ryegrass selenium SOD tocopherol 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

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

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