American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2012, 3, 1187-1192 Published Online September 2012 (
Impact of Germination on Biochemical and Antioxidant
Enzymes of Ceiba pentandra (Kapok) Seeds
Chekuboyina Ravi Kiran1*, Dadi Bhaskar Rao1, Nagala Sirisha1, Tamanam Raghava Rao1
1Department of Biochemistry, College of Science and Technology, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India.
Email: *
Received March 29th, 2012; revised April 27th, 2012; accepted May 6th, 2012
Changes in biochemical components and the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), peroxidase
(POD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and ascorbate oxidase (AO) in germinating and non-germinating seeds of Ceiba
pentandra were evaluated in the present study. Results show that the levels of proteins and total soluble sugars are high
and reducing sugars and free amino acids are low in non-germinating seeds whereas the contrary was observed in 4
days old germinating seeds. Enzymatic antioxidants like SOD, CAT, POD, GPx and AO showed enhanced activities
during seed germination. Our findings indicate that three days after germination of Ceiba pentandra seeds, their palat-
ability significantly improve. The nutritive utilization of protein and carbohydrates along with efficient participation of
antioxidant mechanisms, including the synergistic activities of the different types of SOD, CAT, POD, GPx and AO,
might play an important role during seed germination. The conclusion of this inquiry is that the germinating seeds can
serve as natural antioxidant agents, setting ahead the possibility of employing them for therapeutic purposes.
Keywords: Amino Acids; Ascorbate Oxidase; Catalase; Germination; Glutathione Peroxidase; Peroxidase; Reducing
Sugars; Superoxide Dismutase
1. Introduction
Seed germination and post-germination seedling deve-
lopment are well-regulated processes in plant physiology
involving high metabolic activity and generation of reac-
tive oxygen species (ROS) in the cell [1]. ROS affect
various aspects of seed physiology, displaying two major
functions: as a kind of cytotoxin and as a special role in
seed development, dormancy breakage, and in defence
against biotic and abiotic stresses [2]. A series of new
roles for ROS has recently been identified: the control
and regulation of biological processes, such as cell cycle,
programmed cell death and hormone signaling [3]. These
studies extend our understanding of ROSs and suggest a
dual role for ROS in plant biology as both toxic bypro-
ducts of aerobic metabolism and key regulators of
growth, development and defence pathways. ROS are
produced in aerobic organisms within the cell and are
normally in balance with antioxidant molecules. Oxida-
tive stress arises from an imbalance between generation
and elimination of ROS. These cytotoxic activated ROS
can seriously disrupt normal metabolism through oxida-
tive damage to lipids, protein and nucleic acids, selective
permeability of bio-membranes, causing membrane leak-
age and changes in the activity of membrane-bound en-
zymes [2]. However, an elaborate and highly redundant
plant ROS defence network, composed of antioxidant
enzymes, antioxidants and ROS-producing enzymes, is
responsible for maintaining ROS levels under tight con-
trol. In plant cells, antioxidant enzymes, such as super-
oxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx),
peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT) and ascorbate oxidase
(AO), are considered to form a defensive team, whose
combined purpose is to protect cells from oxidative da-
mage during growth, development and senescence [4].
Thus the key objective of this study was to determine
the impact of germination on biochemical and enzymatic
antioxidant activities of Ceiba pentandra seeds belong-
ing to the order Malvalea and the family Malvaceae.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Chemicals
Chemicals and reagents used for antioxidant estimations
were purchased from Merck. All additional chemicals used
were analytical grade. Altogether the experiments were
performed at room temperature unless otherwise stated.
2.2. Collection of Seeds
Mature Dried fruits of Ceiba pentandra were obtained
*Corresponding author.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. AJPS
Impact of Germination on Biochemical and Antioxidant Enzymes of Ceiba pentandra (Kapok) Seeds
from in and around Andhra University area, Visakhapat-
nam, India. Healthy seeds were selected and washed
thoroughly with running tap water and with 5% (w/v)
Teepol for 10 minutes followed by treatment with ba-
vistin, a commercial fungicide for 5 minutes. Then the
seeds were subsequently surface sterilized with 0.1% (w/v)
HgCl2 for 5 minutes and then washed with sterile dis-
tilled water. The seeds were soaked for 24 hours before
they were kept for germination [5] in sterile Petri-plates
with double layered moistened filter paper. The germina-
tion was carried out at 30˚C with 16 hours light and 8
hours dark [6]. Radicle emergence of 1 cm was used as a
reference to consider seed germination. The 4 days ger-
minated seeds were used for biochemical and antioxidant
2.3. Determination of Proteins, Amino Acids,
Total Soluble Sugars and Reducing Sugars
One gram of non-germinating (soaked overnight in 0.2 M
Tris HCl Buffer, pH 7.2) and germinating Ceiba pentan-
dra seeds were homogenized separately with 20 ml of
pre-chilled 0.2 M Tris HCl Buffer, pH 7.2, containing 0.1
mM EDTA in chilled pestle and mortar. The homoge-
nates were squeezed through double layered cheese cloth
and centrifuged (Sorvall Instrument RC5C, Rotor SS-34)
at 16,000 rpm for 15 minute at 4˚C. One ml of above ex-
tract was taken and 1 ml of ice cold 20% TCA was added
[7]. The pellet was washed twice with acetone and again
centrifuged at 8000 rpm. Supernatant was discarded and
pellet was dissolved in 5 mL of 0.1 N NaOH. This was
used for protein estimation. Total proteins were esti-
mated by the method of Lowry et al. [8] using BSA as
standard. Soluble sugars and free amino acids were de-
termined by phenol sulphuric acid method using glucose
as standard [9] and ninhydrin method using leucine as
standard [10].
2.4. Assay of Superoxide Dismutase
The assay of superoxide dismutase was carried out based
on the reduction of Nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) [11]. To
0.5 ml of seed extract, 1 ml 125 mM of Sodium Carbon-
ate, 0.4 ml of 24 µM NBT and 0.2 ml of 0.1 mM EDTA
were added. The reaction was initiated by adding 0.4 ml
of 1mM Hydroxylamine hydrochloride. Zero time absor-
bance was taken at 560 nm using spectrophotometer,
followed by recording the absorbance after 5 min at 25˚C.
The control was simultaneously run without seed extract.
Units of SOD were expressed as amount of enzyme re-
quired for inhibiting the reduction of NBT by 50%. The
specific activity was expressed in terms of Units per mg
of protein.
2.5. Assay of Catalase
Catalase activity was determined by the titrimetric me-
thod [12]. To 1 ml plant extract, 5 ml of 300 μM phos-
phate buffer (pH 6.8) containing 100 μM hydrogen per-
oxide (H2O2) was added and left at 25˚C for 1 min. The
reaction was arrested by adding 10 ml of 2% sulphuric
acid, and residual H2O2 was titrated with potassium per-
manganate (0.01 N) till pink colour was obtained. Units
of enzyme activity were expressed as ml of 0.1 N potas-
sium permanganate equivalents of H2O2 decomposed per
mg protein per min.
2.6. Assay of Peroxidase
Assay of Peroxidase activity is carried out according to
the procedure of Malik and Singh [13]. 3.5 ml of phos-
phate buffer (pH 6.5) was taken in a clean dry cuvette,
0.2 ml seed extract and 0.1 ml of freshly prepared o-dia-
nisidine solution was added. The temperature of assay
mixture was brought to 28˚C - 30˚C and then placed the
cuvett in the spectrophotometer set at 430 nm. Then, 0.2
ml of 0.2 M H2O2 was added and mixed. The initial ab-
sorbance was read and then, at every 30 sec intervals up
to 3 min. A graph was plotted with the increase in absor-
bance against time. From the linear phase, the change in
absorbance per min was read. Water blank was used in
the assay. The enzyme activity was expressed in units per
mg of protein per min.
2.7. Assay of Glutathione Peroxidase
Glutathione Peroxidase was assayed by the method of
Rotruck et al. [14]. 0.2 ml each of 0.8 mM EDTA, 10
mM sodium azide, 1 mM GSH, 2.5 mM H2O2, 0.32 M
phosphate buffer (pH 7.0) and seed extract were mixed
and incubated at 37˚C for 10 min. The reaction was ar-
rested by the addition of 0.5 ml of 10% TCA and the
tubes were centrifuged. To 0.5 ml of supernatant, 3.0 ml
of 0.33 mM phosphate solution and 1.0 ml 0.6 mM
DTNB reagent were added and the colour developed was
read at 420 nm immediately. Graded amount of standards
were also treated similarly. Glutathione peroxidase acti-
vity was expressed as µg of glutathione utilized per mg
of protein.
2.8. Assay of Ascorbate Oxidase
To 3.0 ml of ascorbate solution (0.003%), 0.1 ml of plant
extracts were added and change in absorbance at 265 nm
was measured at an interval of 30 s for a period of 5 min.
One unit of enzyme activity was expressed as 0.01 OD
change per mg of protein [15].
3. Statistical Analysis
The results of in vitro study were given as Mean ± Stan-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. AJPS
Impact of Germination on Biochemical and Antioxidant Enzymes of Ceiba pentandra (Kapok) Seeds 1189
dard Deviation (SD) obtained from three independent ex-
periments, and analyzed with Student’s t-test for paired
data and a “p” value less than 0.05 was considered as
significant difference in the analysis.
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Biochemical Components
The total protein content decreased during seed germina-
tion in ceiba pentandra seeds. The total protein content
in non-germinating seeds was 27 mg/gram tissue and
decreased to 11.6 mg/g tissue in four days germinating
seeds. On the contrary it was observed that there was an
increase in the free amino acids from 2.20 mg/g of tissue
in germinating seedlings to 0.78 mg/g of tissue in non-
germinating seeds. It may be due to rapid hydrolysis of
proteins, which would result in the release of free amino
acids. Similar fallouts were reported by Ali Al-Heal [16]
in Cassia senna seedlings. Considerable decrease in the
protein content was observed in germinating Lupinus
luteus and L. angustifolius [17] soybeans [18], Bambara
groundnuts (Voandzeia subterranea L. Thouans) [19],
fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis Hook) [20], and
sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus) [21]. The total
soluble sugars content varied from 4 mg/g of tissue to 1.4
mg/g of tissue and reducing sugars varied from 0.56
mg/g of tissue and 1.26 mg/g of tissue in non-germina-
ting and germinating seeds respectively. During germi-
nation, there was a decrease in storage carbohydrates and
an increase of reducing sugars. This might be due to re-
quirement of energy by growing plant at initial stages of
seed germination. The outcomes acquired were presented
in Figure 1(a). These results agree well with the results
of Jaya and Venkataraman [22] in chickpea and green
gram and also in white beans by Kon et al. [23].
4.2. Antioxidant Activity
The germination process modified the antioxidant acti-
vity; after a germination period of four days, Ceiba pen-
tandra seeds showed higher antioxidant activity than raw
seeds. Capacity measured by the constraints of enzymatic
antioxidants includes SOD, CAT, POD, GPx and AO, all
the activities increased with increasing concentrations
ranging from 25 to 100 mg/ml. In germinating seed ex-
tract higher enzymatic antioxidants at 100 mg/ml like
SOD by 6.3 ± 0.089, CAT with 21.1 ± 0.089, peroxidase
69.2 ± 0.15, ascorbate oxidase through 0.84 ± 0.0009 and
glutathione peroxidase with 836 ± 0.89 were detected
against non-germinating seed extracts specifically SOD
with 1.99 ± 0.005, CAT with 6.77 ± 0.05, peroxidase
with 0.127 ± 0.0009, ascorbate oxidase with 0.29 ±
0.0005 and glutathione peroxidase with 84 ± 0.36.
The control of steady-state ROS levels by SOD is an
important protective mechanism against cellular oxida-
tive damage, since 2
acts as a precursor of more cyto-
toxic or highly relative ROS [24]. SOD has been estab-
lished to work in collaboration with POD and CAT
which act in tandem to remove 2 and H2O2, respec-
tively [4]. Early reports illustrate that increased SOD
activities and cellular ROS levels were involved in the
life of many plants including developmental course such
as seed germination [25]. Enhanced SOD activity can be
triggered by increased production of ROS or it might be
a protective measure adopted by C. pentandra seeds
against oxidative damage. Moreover, the changes of
SOD activity in the degrading endosperms and develop-
ing cotyledons were correlated to those of POD and CAT
activities. Our findings, shown in Figure 1(b) were also
in line with previous reports symptomatic of the partici-
pation of SOD in the defense mechanism during germi-
nation and early seedlings development [26].
In oily seeds, CAT is particularly important in the
early events of seedling growth, because it removes H2O2
produced during β-oxidation of the fatty acids [1]. In the
present study, CAT activity was also examined, and a
trend parallel to above was recorded; results are illus-
trated in Figure 1 (c). Increased CAT activity could be an
indication of the cellular evaluated ROS, since the
amount of CAT present in aerobic cells is directly pro-
portional to the oxidative state of the cells [2].
In plants, GPx and POD were considered to be associ-
ated with a number of essential metabolic processes, such
as cell elongation, lignification, phenolic oxidation, patho-
gen defense and defense against stress [27,28]. Moreover,
PODs probably play an important role in seed germina-
tion, growth, morphogenesis, and even in the final stage
of senescence and death [29,30]. Changes in PODs ac-
tivities occur during developmental process in tissue spe-
cific manner and differential regulation in response to
germination process and plant species has been reported
[31,32]. The present results indicate that PODs activities
in the degrading endosperms and developing cotyledons
were considerably greater than those of the raw seeds.
Outcomes were laid on sight in Figures 1(d) and (e).
Thus, increased PODs activities might be involved in the
defence system during seed germination and early seed-
lings development.
AO catalyses the oxidation of L-AA (L-Ascobic acid)
to MDHA (Monodehydroascorbate reductase) with the
related reduction of molecular oxygen to water [33]. In-
creasing evidence links this enzyme to the modulation of
cell expansion and/or cell division, possibly via control
of the oxidation status of the L-AA/DHA redox pair [34,
35]. It is highly expressed in fast-growing tissues [36]
and germinating pea seeds similar to that of above anti-
oxidant enzymes. AO is also found localised mainly in
the cell wall and AO mRNA and proteins are highly ex-
pressed in flowers, ovaries and very young fruits as well
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. AJPS
Impact of Germination on Biochemical and Antioxidant Enzymes of Ceiba pentandra (Kapok) Seeds
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. AJPS
Figure 1. Levels of biochemical and antioxidant enzymes of Ceiba pentandra (kapok) seeds (a) Biochemical components; (b)
SOD; (c) Catalase; (d) Glutathione peroxidase; (e) Peroxidase; (f) Ascorbate oxidase (values represent average of triplicates
and expressed as mean ± SD).
as in the outer portions of the melon fruit mesocarp [37].
A similar expression pattern has also been found in non-
cucurbitaceous plants [38]. Thus AO-mediated oxidation
of apoplastic L-AA appears to be closely linked to cell
elongation processes. Our outcome was also in row with
preceding reports and those were put on view in Figure
5. Conclusion
The seeds of Ceiba pentandra were rich in proteins and
carbohydrates, their levels decrease with the germination
progress, indicating their key role in the growth of em-
bryonic axis. Moreover, our findings strongly support the
hypothesis that SOD, POD, CAT and AO activities are
up-regulated as an antioxidant defense system against
endogenous oxidant radicals generated during seed ger-
mination. The whole biological consequences of these
alterations, in particular, low molecular mass antioxi-
dants as well as altered antioxidant defense mechanisms
during seed germination, are unclear and should be fur-
ther investigated.
6. Acknowledgements
I Ch. Ravi Kiran, duly acknowledge the financial assis-
Impact of Germination on Biochemical and Antioxidant Enzymes of Ceiba pentandra (Kapok) Seeds 1191
tance from University Grants Commission, NON-SAP,
New Delhi without which this project would never been
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