Antioxidant enzymatic activities and gene expression associated with heat tolerance in the stems and roots of two cucurbit species ("Cucurbita maxima" and "Cucurbita moschata") and their interspecific inbred line "Maxchata"

Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Dec 10;14(12):24008-28. doi: 10.3390/ijms141224008.


The elucidation of heat tolerance mechanisms is required to combat the challenges of global warming. This study aimed to determine the antioxidant enzyme responses to heat stress, at the enzymatic activity and gene expression levels, and to investigate the antioxidative alterations associated with heat tolerance in the stems and roots of squashes using three genotypes differing in heat tolerance. Plants of heat-tolerant "C. moschata", thermolabile "C. maxima" and moderately heat-tolerant interspecific inbred line "Maxchata" genotypes were exposed to moderate (37 °C) and severe (42 °C) heat shocks. "C. moschata" exhibited comparatively little oxidative damage, with the lowest hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), superoxide (O2(-)) and malondialdehyde (MDA) contents in the roots compared to stems, followed by "Maxchata". The enzyme activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), catalase (CAT) and peroxidase (POD) were found to be increased with heat stress in tolerant genotypes. The significant inductions of FeSOD, MnSOD, APX2, CAT1 and CAT3 isoforms in tolerant genotypes suggested their participation in heat tolerance. The differential isoform patterns of SOD, APX and CAT between stems and roots also indicated their tissue specificity. Furthermore, despite the sequence similarity of the studied antioxidant genes among "C. maxima" and "Maxchata", most of these genes were highly induced under heat stress in "Maxchata", which contributed to its heat tolerance. This phenomenon also indicated the involvement of other unknown genetic and/or epigenetic factors in controlling the expression of these antioxidant genes in squashes, which demands further exploration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ascorbate Peroxidases / genetics
  • Ascorbate Peroxidases / metabolism
  • Catalase / genetics
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cucurbita / chemistry
  • Cucurbita / enzymology*
  • Cucurbita / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genotype
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Peroxidases / genetics
  • Peroxidases / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Stems / chemistry
  • Plant Stems / enzymology
  • Plant Stems / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Superoxides
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Peroxidases
  • Ascorbate Peroxidases
  • Catalase
  • Superoxide Dismutase