Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are present in all aerobic organisms, but the seed deterioration processes can increase its production. Oxidative stress caused by higher endogenous ROS may cause irreparable damage to cells, leading to the loss of seed viability. Considering that the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) composes the first enzymatic antioxidant defense mechanism, this study aimed to evaluate zygotic embryos of Araucaria angustifolia recalcitrant seeds during storage regarding changes in SOD activity. Besides, some of the major alterations resulting from oxidative stress, e.g., lipid peroxidation and changes in proteins and DNA integrity were also measured. Approximately, 7 000 seeds were harvested from a population in Southern Brazil and stored for 180 days under laboratory (L, laboratory temperature), refrigeration (R, 5 ± 1 °C) and freezing (F, -18 ± 1 °C) conditions. The analysis of lipid peroxidation through TBARS levels, SOD activity, protein profile by electrophoretic separation, and integrity of genomic DNA were performed at 0, 60, 120, and 180 days of storage. The results revealed an increase in lipid peroxidation and SOD activity, especially during the L storage, a condition in which there was an extensive degradation of proteins. Some proteins (i.e., 45, 32, and 31 kDa) were expressed only in embryos stored under R and F conditions. No damage was observed in the nuclear DNA integrity for the evaluated period of seed storage at R and F conditions. The F samples maintained the biochemical traits of interest throughout the storage period, with the exception of the protein profile. However, such changes are limiting for the maintenance of seed viability. In conclusion, R storage can be indicated to delay the metabolic feature alterations that occur when seeds are exposed to conditions of natural ambient after harvest, extending the conservation period of A. angustifolia seeds.

Keywords: Brazilian pine, recalcitrant seeds, seed deterioration, oxidative stress, superoxide dismutase.