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Phytic acid prevents oxidative stress in seeds: evidence from a maize (Zea mays L.) low phytic acid mutant

Doria, Enrico, Galleschi, Luciano, Calucci, Lucia, Pinzino, Calogero, Pilu, Roberto, Cassani, Elena, Nielsen, Erik
Journal of experimental botany 2009 v.60 no.3 pp. 967-978
DNA, DNA damage, Zea mays, antioxidant activity, corn, free radicals, germination, iron, lipid peroxidation, lipids, longevity, metal ions, mutants, oxidative stress, phytic acid, proteins, relative humidity, seed maturation, seeds
A maize mutant defective in the synthesis of phytic acid during seed maturation was used as a tool to study the consequences of the lack of this important reserve substance on seed survival. Data on germinability, free iron level, free radical relative abundance, protein carbonylation level, damage to DNA, degree of lipid peroxidation, α- and γ-tocopherol amount and antioxidant capacity were recorded on seeds of maize B73 and of an isogenic low phytic acid mutant (lpa1-241), either unaged or incubated for 7 d in accelerated ageing conditions (46 °C and 100% relative humidity). The lpa1-241 mutant, compared to wild type (wt), showed a lower germination capacity, which decreased further after accelerated ageing. Whole lpa1-241 mutant kernels contained about 50% more free or weakly bound iron than wt ones and showed a higher content of free radicals, mainly concentrated in embryos; in addition, upon accelerated ageing, lpa1-241 seed proteins were more carbonylated and DNA was more damaged, whereas lipids did not appear to be more peroxidated, but the γ-tocopherol content was decreased by about 50%. These findings can be interpreted in terms of previously reported but never proven antioxidant activity of phytic acid through iron complexation. Therefore, a novel role in plant seed physiology can be assigned to phytic acid, that is, protection against oxidative stress during the seed's life span. As in maize kernels the greater part of phytic acid (and thus of metal ions) is concentrated in the embryo, its antioxidant action may be of particular relevance in this crop.