To evaluate the positive effects of silicon on the stress tolerance of rice plants, we measured the electrolyte leakage (El) from leaf tissue caused by desiccation with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and by high temperature to estimate the integrity of cell membranes. The El caused by 30% and 40% solutions of PEG decreased with the increase in the level of Si in leaves. In leaves of plants grown with 100 ppm SiO2, the level of polysaccharides in cell walls, which is one of the factors related to tolerance to desiccation, was 1.6-fold higher than that in leaves of plants grown without Si. Ultrastructural observations of leaves revealed that polymerized Si accumulated in the walls of epidermal cells but not in those of the mesophyll cells, which are probably the main sites of El. These findings suggested that silicon in rice leaves is involved in the water relations of cells, such as mechanical properties and water permeability and plays a role in preventing El through the synthesis and functions of cell walls. The El caused by high temperature (42.5° C) was also lower in the leaves grown with Si than in the leaves grown without Si, suggesting the involvement of silicon in the thermal stability of lipids in cell membranes. These results suggested that silicon prevents the structural and functional deterioration of cell membranes when rice plants are exposed to environmental stress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science