Dipteryx alata, a tree native to the Brazilian Cerrado, is sensitive to the herbicide nicosulfuron

Ecotoxicology. 2020 Mar;29(2):217-225. doi: 10.1007/s10646-019-02154-7. Epub 2020 Feb 6.


The expansion of land use for agricultural interests and the excessive use of herbicides are among the causes of biodiversity losses in the Brazilian Cerrado biome. Therefore, we aimed to test the hypothesis that Dipteryx alata Vogel, a common species in this biome, is sensitive to nicosulfuron because of its high phytotoxicity. We evaluated physiological, biochemical and morphological responses in D. alata plants exposed to increasing doses of the herbicide. Young plants were transplanted to 10 L pots containing substrate composed of soil and sand (2:1) after fertilization. After an acclimation period, the following doses of nicosulfuron were applied: 0 (control), 6, 12, 24, 48, and 60 g a.e. ha-1. The experiment was conducted in a randomized block design factorial scheme with six doses of nicosulfuron, three evaluation times, and five replicates per treatment. The effects of the herbicide were assessed by measuring gas exchange, chlorophyll a fluorescence, photosynthetic pigments, membrane permeability, antioxidant enzymes and acetolactate synthase. Nicosulfuron altered the photosynthetic machinery and enzymatic metabolism of D. alata. Reductions in physiological traits, increased catalase and ascorbate peroxidase activities, enhanced malondialdehyde concentrations rate of electrolyte leakage and decreased acetolactate synthase activity in response to nicosulfuron all suggest that D. alata is sensitive to this herbicide.

Keywords: Chlorophyll a fluorescence; Herbicide; Oxidative stress; Photosynthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Brazil
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll A
  • Dipteryx / physiology*
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Pyridines / toxicity*
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / toxicity*


  • Antioxidants
  • Herbicides
  • Pyridines
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds
  • nicosulfuron
  • Catalase
  • Chlorophyll A