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Hexaconazole and sodium selenate effectiveness on the productivity of Moringa oleifera


Background and objective

Moringa oleifera is a small tree used in human nutrition and medical proposes because it contains some components such as protein, vitamins, fatty acids, nutrients, and phenolic components; the new literature indicated that M. oleifera has antioxidant and anticancer activities. Hexaconazole (HEXAC) and sodium selenate (SODSE) play important roles in physiological processes in M. oleifera. Various techniques of research work are using to modify the quantity and quality of medicinal crops that are natural source for food and pharmaceutical industries. Adding HEXAC and SODSE are two ways of research that have the potential to increase the productivity of medicinal plants. Thus, the aim of this trial was to evaluate the growth measurements, yield, and chemical content of M. oleifera due to the HEXAC and SODSE treatments.

Materials and methods

Plants were exposed to HEXAC (5 and 10 mg/L), SODSE (30 and 60 mg/L), and control treatments. Morphological characters [leaf number/plant, stem length (cm), fresh weight of shoot (g/plant), dry weights of shoot (g/plant), root length (cm), fresh weight of root (g/plant), and dry weight of root (g/plant)] were recorded during the vegetative and flowering stages while pod and seed weights (g/plant) were recorded at the fruiting stage. Photosynthetic pigments, protein, and the activities of antioxidant enzymes were recorded at both of vegetative and flowering stages. Data were statistically analyzed using two-way analysis of variance.


The 5 mg/L of SODSE resulted in the highest values of growth, yield, photosynthetic pigments, protein, and antioxidant enzymes (identified in leaves) while 30 mg/L of HEXAC produced the greatest amounts of protein that identified in roots.


The SODSE and HEXAC caused significant increases on growth, yield, and chemical constituents of M. oleifera. This research paper discovered that M. oleifera plants can be successfully grown under SODSE and HEXAC as they possess relatively high yield and chemical constituents. So this trial will help the farmers, ministry of agriculture, and drug companies to improve the yield and active components (protein) as natural sours of drug industries.


Moringa oleifera is a small tree that belongs to family Moringaceae used for certain nutrition and medical proposes (Farooq et al. 2012). It contains various constituents such as protein, vitamins, oils, fatty acids, elements, and phenolic compounds. Previous investigators indicated that M. oleifera has an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, cardiovascular, hepatoprotective, anti-ulcer, diuretic, antiurolithiatic, and antihelmintic characters (Farooq et al. 2012).

The growth, yield, and chemical constituents of medicinal crops can be increased by various ways such as nutrition, irrigation, and plant growth regulators (Fletcher et al. 2000; Yassen and Khalid 2009; Khalid and Shedeed 2014; Khalid and Ahmed 2017). Manipulation of medicinal plants production with chemicals is one of the most important aims for agricultural achievements. Hexaconazole (HEXAC) and sodium selenate (SODSE) could be used to modify growth, yield, and chemical constituents of medicinal plants (Fletcher et al. 2000; Germ and Stibilj 2007; Ahmed et al. 2018).

The HEXAC is one of triazole components which has the properties of fungicidal and plant growth regulators. It can induce some changes in plant morphological characters, protein, gibberellin synthesis, carbohydrate values, and synthesis of cytokinin and abscisic acid (ABA) contents (Fletcher et al. 2000; Jaleel et al. 2016). The HEXAC application resulted in various increases in chlorophyll and soluble protein of okra and chili (Mareeswari 2002). Application of HEXAC caused significant increases in the yield and antioxidant enzymes activities of carrot and cassava plants (Gomathinayagam et al. 2007; Gopi et al. 2007). Cucumber plants treated with HEXAC produced different variations in growth characters, photosynthetic pigments, and the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and peroxidase (POD) (Kim and Hong 2012). The common bean plants treated with 2 mg/L (as a foliar application) resulted in significant increments in growth, yield components, total chlorophyll, and antioxidant enzymes activities (Chehelpar et al. 2016). Slight changes were observed in the rate of seed germination and biomass production of Cicer arietinumand and Zea mays plants under HEXAC treatments. The growth characters of sweet potato were significantly improved with HEXAC treatments especially at 3 mg/L (Sivakumar et al. 2009; Dhanamanjuri et al. 2013; Haya et al. 2017).

Previous investigations recommended the inorganic form of selenium (Se) such as selenate to use in plant nutrition because it is the most available one for plants (Ebrahimi et al. 2014). Low doses of SODSE are recommended with different crops; it has a known role in the balance of plant hormone, antioxidant activities, and several physiological processes in a plant cell. It can promote glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activities which increase the resistance to substandard biotic factors affecting crops (Csiszr et al. 2004; Djanaguiraman et al. 2005; Filek et al. 2008; Cartes et al. 2010). Different enhancements were occurred in growth characters, yield, and photosynthetic pigments of some crops such as alfalfa, chives, tomato, peanut, and celery under the treatments of SODSE (Hawrylak-Nowak 2009; Chamheidar and Parvanak 2014; Nancy and Arulselvi 2014; Jozwiak et al. 2016; Irmak 2017; Khalid et al. 2017; Ahmed et al. 2018). Application of SODSE resulted in highly significant increases of Brassica rapa L. seed yield (Lyons et al. 2009). The Spirulina platensis plants were exposed to different levels of SODSE and the enzyme activities [(glutathione peroxidase (GPX), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and Guadep peroxidases (POD)] were investigated; obtained results indicated that the SODSE levels (less than 175 mg/L) caused significant increases in the activities of all enzymes (GPX, SOD, CAT, and POD) (Chen et al. 2008). The treatments of SODSE enhanced antioxidant enzymes (especially CAT) in tomato plants (Nancy and Arulselvi 2014; Mozafariyan et al. 2017). The SODSE application resulted in high retention in the lettuce plants, with a maximum of 97.5% retained in the edible portion (Kathleen et al. 2003). The SODSE dose at 1 mg/L increased the total protein by 25% compared with the control of tomato fruits (Nancy and Arulselvi 2014). Protein contents of peanut were not affected under SODSE treatments (Irmak 2017).

Adding HEXAC and SODSE are two ways to increase the production of medicinal plants. So the influences of HEXAC and SODSE on the growth, yield, photosynthetic pigments, protein, and the activities of antioxidant enzymes of M. oleifera were estimated.

Materials and methods

Plant materials and experimental conditions

Two pot experiments were conducted in a greenhouse of the National Research Centre, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt, during two seasons of 2016/2017 and 2017/2018. The M. oleifera seeds were obtained from the Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAP), Ministry of Agriculture, Giza, Egypt. Ten seeds were sown in each clay pot (30 cm diameter) in the second week of March during both seasons. Each pot was filled with 10 kg of air-dried clay:sand (1:1, V:V) mix. Six weeks after sowing, seedlings were thinned to three plants per pot. Pots were divided into three groups. The first group was exposed to HEXAC at 30 or 60 mg/L. The second group was subjected to SODSE (as Se) at 5 or 10 mg/L. The third group was subjected to distilled water (as control). The HEXAC and SODSE were applied to run-off to foliage at 6 and 7 weeks after sowing. All agricultural practices were conducted according to the recommendations by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture.

Morphological characters

Morphological characters (MCH), such as leaf number (LEN), stem length (STL), fresh weight of shoot (FWSH), dry weight of shoot (DWSH), root length (ROL), fresh weight of root (FWR), and dry weight of root (DWR), were recorded during the various growth stages (GRS), i.e., vegetative stage (VST) [120 days after sowing (120 DAS)], flowering stage (FST) [210 days after sowing (210 DAS)]. During the fruiting stage [255 days after sowing (255 DAS)], the pod weight (PW) and seed weight (SW) were recorded.

Determination of photosynthetic pigments

Chlorophyll (CHL a, CHL b) and total carotenoids (TOC) in fresh leaves which were collected at VST and FST of each treatment were determined using methods described by Anonymous (2016).

Extraction and estimation of nitrogenous constituents

The soluble protein, insoluble protein, and total protein were estimated in leaves and roots, and then calculated according to the method described by Daughaday et al. (1952).

Extraction and assaying antioxidant enzymes activities

Enzyme extraction was with the method described by Mukherjee and Choudhuri (1983). Catalase activity (CAT) EC was assayed according to the method of Kar and Mishra (1976). Peroxidase activity (POX) EC was assayed with the method of Kar and Mishra (1976) with slight modifications.

Statistical analysis

The experiment was arranged as a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial (HEXAC, SODSE, growth stages) with four replicates using a randomized complete block design using STAT-ITCF program (Statistica, ver. 7. 1, Statsoft Inc., Tulsa, OK) (2007). According to De-Smith (2015), averages of data of both seasons were analyzed using two-way analysis of variance. Significant values were determined according to P values (P < 0.05 = significant (*), P < 0.01 = moderate significant (**), and P < 0.001 = highly significant (***)). Data were given as mean ± standard divination (SD).


Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on the MCH during various GRS

The MCH such as LEN/plant, STL (cm), FWSH (g/plant), DWSH (g/plant), ROL (cm), FWR (g/plant), and DWR (g/plant) were increased with various doses of HEXAC or SODSE during VST and FST compared with control (Table 1). The M. oleifera plants produced higher values of MCH at FST than VST. The highest MCH were produced with the dose of 5 mg/L (SODSE) at FST with the values of 17.0, 251.7, 391.4, 212.2, 28.0, 86.3, and 65.0, respectively (Table 1). Increases in all MCH were highly significant for HEXAC or SODSE levels, GRS and various levels of HEXAC, or SODSE × GRS except the LEN was insignificant for interaction. Highly significant increases were obtained in the PW and SW under HEXAC or SODSE doses. The highest PW and SW were produced due to the SODSE at 5 mg/L with the values of 142.7 and 71.3 g/plant respectively (Table 2).

Table 1 Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on the MCH
Table 2 Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on PW and SW

Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on PHOSP content (mg/g) during various GRS

The doses of HEXAC or SODSE resulted in increments in PHOSP (CHL a, CHL b, and TOC) at VST and FST (Table 3). The FST recorded higher values in PHOSP than VST. The highest amounts of CHL a, CHL b, and TOC were recorded with the treatment of 5 mg/L SODSE during the FST with values of 10.3, 8.0, and 3.1 mg/g respectively (Table 3). The increases in all PHOSP were highly significant for HEXAC or SODSE, various stages and their interactions except the CHL b was significant for HEXAC or SODSE × growth stages.

Table 3 Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on PHOSP

Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on the proteins content at different GRS

Application of HEXAC or SODSE as foliar spray, GST, and the interaction affect soluble, insoluble, and total protein that identified in leaves and roots (Table 4). The HEXAC or SODSE doses resulted in different increments in the protein contents of leaves or roots at various GRS compared with control. Lower values in protein levels were found during VST than FST. The dose of 5 mg/L (SODSE) produced the greatest amounts of soluble, insoluble, and total protein in leaves with the values of 10.7, 5.3, and 16.0 mg/g, respectively. On the other hand, the highest amounts of soluble, insoluble, and total protein in roots (4.7, 2.8, and 7.6 mg/g) were occurred with HEXAC at 30 mg/L. The changes in all proteins values were highly significant for HEXAC or SODSE, GRS, and the interactions except the insoluble protein of leaves was significant for the interactions.

Table 4 Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on the proteins content

Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on the activities of antioxidant enzymes during GRS

As shown in Table 5, different increases were occurred in the antioxidant enzymes activities [CAT and POX (unit/gFW/min)] in leaves and roots under the levels of HEXAC or SODSE at VST and FST. The greatest activities of CAT and POX were produced under SODSE at 5 mg/L that recorded the values of 24.8, 2.7 unit/gFW/min; 10.7, 1.7 unit/gFW/min of leaves and roots, respectively. The increments in both enzyme activities were highly significant for various treatments, growth stages, and their interactions except the CAT activity was insignificant for different treatments × both VST and FST.

Table 5 Effect of HEXAC or SODSE on the activities of antioxidant enzymes


The obtained results showed that different levels of HEXAC or SODSE caused various increases in MCH, PW, SW, PHOSP, protein, and the activities of antioxidant enzymes at VST and FST. The increase in MCH, PW, and SW with HEXAC treatments may be due to HEXAC which produce an increase in cytokinin levels of M. oleifera plants (Gopi et al. 2007) that reflect increases in the cell division and ultimately paved the way to the increase of MCH, PW, and SW. On the other hand, the increase in PHOSP with HEXAC doses is attributed to the ability of triazoles (such as HEXAC) to improve the cytokinin values and thereby the stimulation of PHOSP and protein biosynthesis (Gopi et al. 2007). It can be noted that higher PHOSP and protein in the leaves resulted in an increase of FW and DW of Daucus carota L (Gopi et al. 2007; Feng et al. 2003). The HEXAC have been shown to improve the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as CAT and POX, especially under abiotic stress factors against free radical damage (Hojati et al. 2011). The current results are in accordance with those obtained by Zhang et al. (2007) and Chehelpar et al. (2016); they indicated that HEXAC resulted in higher activities of antioxidant enzymes of soybean and common bean than untreated plant.

Different variations were found in MCH, yield, and PHOSP due to SODSE treatments that may be due to the increase in CHL, respiration rate, and activity of GSH-Px of mitochondria and dry material (Breznik et al. 2005; Germ and Osvald 2005; Smrkolj et al. 2006; Emam et al. 2014). The increases in PHOSP with SODSE treatments have been decided (Xue et al. 2001; Valkama et al. 2003; Lefsrud et al. 2006). The increasing CHL under SODSE levels may be occurred by increasing the uptake of magnesium (Mg) in leaves (Haghighi et al. 2016). The changes in the protein and various amino acids contents (phenylalanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, threonine, tyrosine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, valine, alanine, arginine, proline, cysteine, glycine, histidine, and serine) were confirmed by Jezek et al. (2011) in potato tubers (Solanum tuberosum L.). On the other hand, the effects of SODSE on enzymatic activities and productivity of dill under saline condition were investigated (Shekari et al. 2017); the results decided that SODSE caused various improvements in antioxidant enzymes activities and osmotic adjustment; therefore, adding SODSE under saline condition could be a better strategy for maintaining the dill productivity in arid regions. Application of SODSE with iodine resulted in an increase of carrot productivity (Smoleń et al. 2016).


In conclusion, the present investigation showed the impact of HEXAC or SODSE on growth, yield, and some chemical composition of M. oleifera. The best results were achieved at the doses of 5 mg/L (SODSE) and 30 mg/L (HEXAC). On the other hand, this study observed that the productivity of M. oleifera plants can be enhanced with SODSE and HEXAC applications. So this trial will help the farmers, the ministry of agriculture, and drug companies to improve the yield and active components M. oleifera as natural sources of drug industries.







Dry weight of root


Dry weight of shoot


Flowering stage


Fresh weight of root


Fresh weight of shoot


Growth stages




Leaf number


Morphological characters




Photosynthetic pigments




Pod weight


Root length


Standard divination


Sodium selenate


Stem length


Seed weight


Vegetative stage


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The authors would like to thank the National Research Centre (NRC) for its facilitates during this scientific work.


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Ahmed, A.M.A., Talaat, I.M. & Khalid, K.A. Hexaconazole and sodium selenate effectiveness on the productivity of Moringa oleifera. Bull Natl Res Cent 43, 74 (2019).

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