The Effect of Silicon on Osmotic and Drought Stress Tolerance in Wheat Landraces

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Drought stress reduces annual global wheat yields by 20%. Silicon (Si) fertilisation has been proposed to improve plant drought stress tolerance. However, it is currently unknown if and how Si affects different wheat landraces, especially with respect to their innate Si accumulation properties. In this study, significant and consistent differences in Si accumulation between landraces were identified, allowing for the classification of high Si accumulators and low Si accumulators. Landraces from the two accumulation groups were then used to investigate the effect of Si during osmotic and drought stress. Si was found to improve growth marginally in high Si accumulators during osmotic stress. However, no significant effect of Si on growth during drought stress was found. It was further found that osmotic stress decreased Si accumulation for all landraces whereas drought increased it. Overall, these results suggest that the beneficial effect of Si commonly reported in similar studies is not universal and that the application of Si fertiliser as a solution to agricultural drought stress requires detailed understanding of genotype-specific responses to Si.

Original languageEnglish
Article number814
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

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