Leaf is one of the early sensors for the drought stress and is important to study drought tolerance mechanism. Activities of antioxidative enzymes and status of malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), proline and total phenols were studied in leaves of drought tolerant (PDG 3 and PDG 4) and susceptible (PBG 1, GPF 2, PBG 5, L 550 and BG1053) chickpea cultivars under irrigated and rainfed conditions at different development stages. In general, with the age of plant, the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) increased but the activities of glutathione reductase (GR), ascorbate peroxidase (APX) and peroxidase (POX) decreased in leaves. With some exceptions, in general, higher status of APX and POX in leaves at vegetative stage I (30 days after sowing) and II (60 days after sowing); GR at vegetative stage II and pre-flowering stage and SOD and CAT at seed filling stages in tolerant cultivars under drought stress reflected stage specific upregulation of antioxidant defence system in them. The relatively lower activities of APX and POX in old leaves during seed filling stage make them more prone to enhanced oxidative injury than the young leaves. Lower content of hydrogen peroxide and malondialdehyde in leaves of tolerant cultivars during seed filling reflects the impact of antioxidant defence system operative at that time. The higher accumulation of proline and total phenol in leaves of tolerant cultivars might be playing important role in drought stress tolerance. These results indicated the importance of upregulation of different antioxidant enzymes at variable stages of leaf development.
Antioxidative enzymes, Chickpea, Drought stress, Leaves
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