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Dipteryx alata, a tree native to the Brazilian Cerrado, is sensitive to the herbicide nicosulfuron


The expansion of land use for agricultural interests and the excessive use of herbicides are among the causes of biodiversity losses in the Brazilian Cerrado biome. Therefore, we aimed to test the hypothesis that Dipteryx alata Vogel, a common species in this biome, is sensitive to nicosulfuron because of its high phytotoxicity. We evaluated physiological, biochemical and morphological responses in D. alata plants exposed to increasing doses of the herbicide. Young plants were transplanted to 10 L pots containing substrate composed of soil and sand (2:1) after fertilization. After an acclimation period, the following doses of nicosulfuron were applied: 0 (control), 6, 12, 24, 48, and 60 g a.e. ha−1. The experiment was conducted in a randomized block design factorial scheme with six doses of nicosulfuron, three evaluation times, and five replicates per treatment. The effects of the herbicide were assessed by measuring gas exchange, chlorophyll a fluorescence, photosynthetic pigments, membrane permeability, antioxidant enzymes and acetolactate synthase. Nicosulfuron altered the photosynthetic machinery and enzymatic metabolism of D. alata. Reductions in physiological traits, increased catalase and ascorbate peroxidase activities, enhanced malondialdehyde concentrations rate of electrolyte leakage and decreased acetolactate synthase activity in response to nicosulfuron all suggest that D. alata is sensitive to this herbicide.

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The authors thank the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq, grants no. 551456/2010-8 and 552689/2011-4) and the Goiano Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology, Rio Verde campus (IFGoiano-RV, grants no. DPPG 052/2015) for providing financial support. The current study was also supported by SISBIOTA-BRASIL Program (grants no. 563335/2010; CNPQ and 2010/52319-2; the São Paulo Research Foundation/FAPESP). FBS, PFBC, RBV, CAM and CM are grateful to the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and KJTN for the Goiás Research Foundation (FAPEG) for scholarships.

Author contributions

FBS, CAM, and ACC designed the study. FBS, RGV, and PFB conducted the experiments and performed the physiological measurements. FBS, PFB, and KJTN performed the biochemical analysis. FBS, CM, ACC and CAM analyzed and discussed the data. FBS and CM wrote the manuscript with contributions from CAM, AJ and MD. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Alan Carlos Costa.

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Silva, F.B., Costa, A.C., Müller, C. et al. Dipteryx alata, a tree native to the Brazilian Cerrado, is sensitive to the herbicide nicosulfuron. Ecotoxicology 29, 217–225 (2020).

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  • Chlorophyll a fluorescence
  • Herbicide
  • Oxidative stress
  • Photosynthesis