The effect of foliar salicylic acid (SA) applications (10⁻³ and 10⁻⁵ M) on activities of nitrate reductase, guaiacol peroxidase (POD), superoxide dismutases (SOD), catalase (CAT) and proline enzymes and physiological parameters was evaluated in two ginger varieties (Halia Bentong and Halia Bara) under greenhouse conditions. In both varieties, tested treatments generally enhanced photosynthetic rate and total dry weight. Photosynthetic rate increases were generally accompanied by increased or unchanged stomatal conductance levels, although intercellular CO₂ concentrations of treated plants were typically lower than in controls. Lower SA concentrations were generally more effective in enhancing photosynthetic rate and plant growth. Exogenous application of SA increased antioxidant enzyme activities and proline content; the greatest responses were obtained in plants sprayed with 10⁻⁵ M SA, with significant increases observed in CAT (20.1%), POD (45.2%), SOD (44.1%) and proline (43.1%) activities. Increased CAT activity in leaves is naturally expected to increase photosynthetic efficiency and thus net photosynthesis by maintaining a constant CO₂ supply. Our results support the idea that low SA concentrations (10⁻⁵ M) may induce nitrite reductase synthesis by mobilizing intracellular NO³⁻ and can provide protection to nitrite reductase degradation in vivo in the absence of NO³⁻. Observed positive correlations among proline, SOD, CAT and POD activities in the studied varieties suggest that increased SOD activity was accompanied by increases in CAT and POD activities because of the high demands of H₂O₂ quenching.
Extraction of protease from a local ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale var. Bentong) was carried out. The effect of extraction pH (6.4, 6.8, 7.0, 7.2, 7.6, 8.0, 8.4, and 8.8) and stabilizers (0.2% ascorbic acid, 0.2% ascorbic acid and 5 mM EDTA, or 10 mM cysteine and 5 mM EDTA) on protease activity during extraction was examined. pH 7.0 potassium phosphate buffer and 10 mM cysteine in combination with 5 mM EDTA as stabilizer were found to be the most effective conditions. The extraction procedure yielded 0.73% of Bentong ginger protease (BGP) with a specific activity of 24.8±0.2 U/mg protein. Inhibitory tests with some protease inhibitors classified the enzyme as a cysteine protease. The protease showed optimum activity at 60 °C and pH 6-8, respectively. The enzyme was completely inhibited by heavy metal cations such as Cu2+, and Hg2+. SDS stimulated the activity of enzyme, while emulsifiers (Tween 80 and Tween 20) slightly reduced its activity. The kinetic analysis showed that the protease has Km and Vmax values of 0.21 mg mL-1 and 34.48 mg mL-1 min-1, respectively. The dried enzyme retained its activity for 22 months when stored at -20 °C.