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J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Aug 30;65(34):7396-7405. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b02950. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Thymol Ameliorates Cadmium-Induced Phytotoxicity in the Root of Rice (Oryza sativa) Seedling by Decreasing Endogenous Nitric Oxide Generation.

Wang TT1,2, Shi ZQ1,2, Hu LB3, Xu XF2, Han FX4, Zhou LG5, Chen J1,3,6.

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Institute of Food Quality and Safety, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences , Nanjing 210014, China.
College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University , Nanjing 210064, China.
Department of Food Science, Henan Institute of Science and Technology , Xinxiang 453003, China.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Jackson State University , Jackson, Mississippi 39217, United States.
Department of Plant Pathology, China Agricultural University , Beijing 100193, China.
Key Laboratory of Food Quality and Safety of Jiangsu Province-State Key Laboratory Breeding Base, Jiangsu Provincial Department of Agriculture and Forestry , Nanjing 210014, China.


Thymol has been developed as medicine and food preservative due to its immune-regulatory effect and antimicrobial activity, respectively. However, little is currently known about the role of thymol in the modulation of plant physiology. In the present study, we applied biochemical and histochemical approaches to investigate thymol-induced tolerance in rice (Oryza sativa) seedlings against Cd (cadmium) stress. Thymol at 20 μM recovered root growth completely upon CdCl2 exposure. Thymol pronouncedly decreased Cd-induced ROS accumulation, oxidative injury, cell death, and Cd2+ accumulation in roots. Pharmaceutical experiments suggested that endogenous NO mediated Cd-induced phytotoxicity. Thymol decreased Cd-induced NO accumulation by suppressing the activity of NOS (nitric oxide synthase) and NR (nitrate reductase) in root. The application of NO donor (SNP, sodium nitroprusside) resulted in the increase in endogenous NO level, which in turn compromised the alleviating effects of thymol on Cd toxicity. Such findings may helpful to illustrate the novel role of thymol in the modulation of plant physiology, which may be applicable to improve crop stress tolerance.


Oryza sativa; cadmium; nitric oxide; phytotoxicity; thymol

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