Effects of different levels of sulfur and selenium on some morphological and antioxidant properties of onion (Allium cepa L.) cv. Germez Azarshahr

Document Type : Full Paper


1 Former M. Sc. Student, Faculty of Agriculture, BU-Ali Sina, University Hamadan, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Faculty of Agriculture, BU-Ali Sina, University Hamadan, Iran

3 Associate Professor, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran


Onion is one of the vegetables greatly consumed in the food chain of people and researchers are always trying to improve itsnutritional quality. This study was conducted to investigate the effect of different levels of sulfur (32, 64 and 128 mg L-1 sulfate) and selenium (0, 1 and 2 mg L-1 selenate) on the growth and antioxidant properties of red onion cv. Azarshahr. The study was performed under hydroponic conditions. Results showed that the concentrations of sulfate and selenate and the interaction of them had a significant effect on the most of growth characteristics of onion plants. The highest fresh weight and diameter of bulb (35.70 g and 38.24 mm) was observed in 128 mg L-1 sulfur in combination with 2 mg L-1 selenate. There was a positive correlation between selenate and sulfate with the bulb fresh weight and diameter of onion. The highest percentage of bulb dry matter content (16%) was obtained in 64 mg L-1 sulfate combined with 1 mg L-1 selenate. At all concentrations of sulfate, the plant height was reduced by increasing of selenate. In addition, selenium accumulation was increased in the onion by increasing selenate concentrations in all levels of sulfate. By increasing selenium, antioxidant activity and phenol and flavonoid contents of bulb tissue was increased.


Main Subjects

  1. Abbey, L., Joyce, D. C., Aked, J. & Smith, B. (2002). Genotype, sulphur nutrition and soil type effects on growth and dry–matter production of spring onion. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 77(3), 340-345.
  2. Adhikari, P. (2012). Biofortification of selenium in broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var italic) and onion (Allium cepa L.). Master Thesis. Faculty of Plant Science Norwegian University, Norway.
  3. Barak, P. & Goldman, I. L. (1997). Antagonistic relationship between selenate and sulfate uptake in onion (Allium cepa): Implication for the production of organosulfur and organoselenium compounds in plants. Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 45(4),1290-1294.
  4. Cartes, P. (2006). Selenium distribution in ryegrass and its antioxidant role as affected by sulfur fertilization. Plant Soil, 285, 187-195.
  5. Chang, C., Yang, M., Wen, H. & Chern, J. (2002). Estimation of total flavonoid content in propolis by two complementary colorimetric methods. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 10(3), 178- 182.
  6. Chu, J., Xiaoqin, Y. & Zhuona, Z. (2010). Responses of wheat seedlings to exogenous selenium supply under cold stress. Biology Trace Element Research, 136,355-363.
  7. Cruz-Jimenez, G., Jose, R. P. V., Guadalupe, D. R., Meitzner, G., Jason, G. P. & Gardea-Torresdey, J. L. (2005). Effect of sulfate on selenium uptake and chemical speciation in Convolvolus arvensis L. Environmental Chemistry, 2(2), 100 -107.
  8. Diego, A. M., Gemma, V. & Maria, T. S. (2005). Sulfur, chromium and selenium accumulated in chines cabbage under direct covers. Enviroment management, 74(1), 89-96.
  9. Finley, J. W. (2003). Reduction of cancer risk by consumption of selenium-enriched plants: enrichment of broccoli with selenium increases the anticarcinogenic properties of broccoli. Journal of Medicinal Food, 6, 19-27.
  10. Freeman, J. L., Lihong, Z., Matthew, A. M., Sirine, F., Steve, P. M. & Pilon-Smits, E. A. H. (2006). Spatial imaging, speciation, and quantification of selenium in the hyperaccumulator plants Astragalus bisulcatus and Stanleya pinnata. Plant Physiology, 142(1), 124-134.
  11. Goodson, C. C., Parker, D. R., Amrhein, C. & Zhang, Y. (2003). Soil selenium uptake and root system development in plant taxa differing in Se-accumulating capability. New Phytologist, 159(2), 391-401.
  12. Hanasaki, Y. Ogawa, S. & Fukui, S. (1994). The correlation between active oxygens scavenging and antioxidative effects of flavonoids. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 16, 845-50.
  13. Hasanuzzaman, M., Anwar, H. M. & Masayuki, F. (2010). Selenium in higher plants: physiological role, antioxidant metabolism and abiotic stress tolerance. Journal of Plant Science, 5(4), 354-375.
  14. Hsu, F. U. C., Wirtz, M., Heppel, S. C., Bogs, J., Kramer, U., Khan, M. S., Bub, A., Hell, R. & Rauch, T. (2011). Generation of Se fortified broccoli as functional food: impact of Se fertilization on S metabolism. Plant cell and environment, 34(2), 192-207.
  15. Ip, C. & Lisk, D. J. (1994). Enrichment of selenium in allium vegetables for cancer prevention. Carcinogenesis, 15, 1881-1885.
  16. Jaggi, R. C. & Dixit, S. P. (1999). Onion (Allium cepa L.) responses to sulphur in representative vegetable growing soils of Kanger Valley of Himachal Pardesh. Indian Journal Agriculture Science, 69, 289-291.
  17. Jahid, A. M., Kumar, S., Thakur, P., Sharma, S. K., Raman, P. N., Kaur, D. P., Bhandhari, K., Kaushal, N., Singh, K., Srivastav, A. & Nayyar, H. (2010). Promotion of growth in mungbean (Phaseolus aureus Roxb.) by selenium is associated with stimulation of carbohydrate metabolism. Biology Trace Element Research, 143(1), 530-539.
  18. Kapolna, E. & Fodor, P. (2006). Speciation analysis of selenium enriched green onions (Allium fistulosum) by HPLCICP-MS. Microchemical Journal, 84, 56-62.
  19. Kapolna, E., Shah, M., Caruso, J. A. & Fodor, P. (2007). Selenium speciation studies in Se-enriched chives (Allium schoenoprasum) by HPLC-ICP–MS. Food Chemistry, 101(4), 1398-1406.
  20. Kopsell, D. A. & Randle, W. M. (1997). Selenat concentration affects selenium and sulfur uptake and accumulation by 'Granex 33' onions. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 122(5), 721-726.
  21. Lyons, G. H., Stangoulis, J. & Graham, R. (2005). Tolerance of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to high soil and solution selenium levels. Plant Soil, 270(1), 179-188.
  22. Machackova, I. & Zmrhal, Z. (1975). The role of proxidase in the metabolism of indole-3-acetic acid and phenols in wheat. Phytochemistry, 14(5), 1251-1254.
  23. Mecdonald, S., Prenzier, P. D., Autolovich, M. & Robards, K. (2001). Phenolic content and antioxidant activity of olive extracts. Food Chemistry, 73, 73-84.
  24. Novozamsky, I. & Vaneck, R. (1977). Total sulfur determination in plant material. Analytical Chemistry, 286(5), 367-368.
  25. Peyvast, Gh. (2009). Oloriculture. (5thd.). Guilan University.
  26. Randle, W., Lancaster, E. J., Shaw, M. L., Sutton, K. H. & Hay, R. L. (1995). Quantifying onion flavor compounds responding to sulfur fertility-sulfur increases levels of Alk(en)yl Cysteine Sulfoxides and biosynthetic intermediates. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 120(6), 1075-1081.
  27. Robbins, R. J., Keck, A. S., Banuelos, G. & Finley, J. W. (2005). Cultivation conditions and selenium fertilization alter the phenolic profile, glucosinolate, and sulforaphane content of broccoli. Journal of medicinal food, 8(2), 204-214.
  28. Stojicevic, S. S., stanisavljevic, I. T., Velickovic, D. T., Veljkovic, V. B. & Lazic, M. L. (2008). Comparative screening of the antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Sempervivum marmoreum L. extracts obtained by various extraction techniques. Journal of the Serbian Chemical Society, 73(6), 597-607.
  29. Terry, N., Zayed, A. M., De Souza, M. P. & Tarun, A. S. (2000). Selenium in higher plants. Annuals Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, 51, 401-32.
  30. Tsuneyoshi, T., Yoshida, J. & Sasaoka, T. (2006). Hydroponic Cultivation Offers a Practical Means of Producing Selenium-Enriched Garlic1–3. American Society for Nutrition, 136(3), 870-872.
  31. Turakainen, M., Hartikainen, H. & Mervi, M. S. N. (2004). Effects of selenium treatments on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) growth and concentrations of soluble sugars and starch. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 52, 5378-5382.
  32. Whanger, P. D. (2004). Selenium and its relationship to cancer: an update. British Journal of Nutrition, 91(1), 11-38.
  33. White, P. J., Bowen, H. C., Parmaguru, P., Fritz, M., Spracklen, W. P., Spiby, R. E., Mecham, M. C., Mead, A., Harriman, M., Trueman, L. J., Smith, B. M., Thomas, B. & Broadley, M. R. (2004). Interaction between selenium and sulphur nutrition in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiology, 55(404), 1927-1937.
  34. Wrobel, K., Wrobel, K., Kannamkumarath, S. S., Caruso, J. A., Wysocka, I. A., Bulska, E., Swiatek, J. & Wierzbicka, M. (2004). HPLC-ICP-MS speciation of selenium in enriched onion leaves a potential dietary source of Se-methylselenocysteine. Food Chemistry, 86(4), 617-623.
  35. Xue, T., Hartikainen, H. & Piironen, V. (2001). Antioxidative and growth promoting effect of selenium on senescing lettuce. Plant and Soil, 237(1), 55 61.
  36. Yong, F., Brittany, C., Yaofang, Z., Liyan, Z., Caruso, J. A. & Qiuhui, H. (2010). Distribution and in vitro availability of selenium in selenium-containingstorage protein from selenium-enriched rice utilizing optimized extraction. Agricultural Food Chemistry, 58, 9731-9738.
  37. Yong-ming, L., Yu-xin, S. & De-hui, L. (2010). Effects of applying selenium on contents of total flavonoid, chlorogenic acid and selenium in flower of Chrysanthemum morifolium. National Science Library, 42(4), 618-623. (Abstract)