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Effect of pretreatment with hydrogen sulfide donor sodium hydrosulfide on heat tolerance in relation to antioxidant system in maize (Zea mays) seedlings


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a signal molecule that is involved in plant growth, development and the acquisition of stress tolerance including heat tolerance, but the mechanism of H2S-induced heat tolerance is not completely clear. In present study, the effect of sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS), a H2S donor, treatment on heat tolerance of maize seedlings in relation to antioxidant system was investigated. The results showed that NaHS treatment improved survival percentage of maize seedlings under heat stress in a concentration-dependent manner, indicating that H2S treatment could improve heat tolerance of maize seedlings. To further study mechanism of NaHS-induced heat tolerance, catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione reductase (GR) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities, and glutathione (GSH) and ascorbic acid (AsA) contents in maize seedlings were determined. The results showed that NaHS treatment increased the activities of CAT, GPX, SOD and GR, and GSH and AsA contents as well as the ratio of reduced antioxidants to total antioxidants [AsA/(AsA+DHA) and GSH/(GSH +GSSG)] in maize seedlings under normal culture conditions compared with the control. Under heat stress, antioxidant enzymes activities, antioxidants contents and the ratio of the reduced antioxidants to total antioxidants in control and treated seedlings all decreased, but NaHS-treated seedlings maintained higher antioxidant enzymes activities and antioxidants levels as well as the ratio of reduced antioxidants to total antioxidants. All of above-mentioned results suggested that NaHS treatment could improve heat tolerance of maize seedlings, and the acquisition of this heat tolerance may be relation to enhanced antioxidant system activity.

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analysis of variance


ascorbate peroxidase


ascorbic acid




carbon monoxide






fresh weight


glutathione reductase




oxidized glutathione


glutathione S-transferase




nitric oxide


nitroblue tetrazolium


guaiacol peroxidase


reactive oxygen species


superoxide dismutase


2-thiobarbituric acid


trichloroacetic acid


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Correspondence to Zhong-Guang Li.

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Li, ZG., Yi, XY. & Li, YT. Effect of pretreatment with hydrogen sulfide donor sodium hydrosulfide on heat tolerance in relation to antioxidant system in maize (Zea mays) seedlings. Biologia 69, 1001–1009 (2014).

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Key words

  • antioxidants
  • antioxidant enzymes
  • heat stress
  • heat tolerance
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • maize seedlings