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The ameliorative effect of silicon on soybean seedlings grown in potassium-deficient medium

Miao, Bao-He, Han, Xing-Guo, Zhang, Wen-Hao
Annals of botany 2010 v.105 no.6 pp. 967-973
Glycine max, biomass, crop yield, enzyme activity, growing media, hydrogen peroxide, leaves, lipid peroxidation, nutrient deficiencies, nutrients, nutritive value, potassium, root growth, roots, seedlings, shoots, silicon, sodium silicate, soybeans, stems, superoxide dismutase, toxicity
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Crop yield and nutritional quality are significantly reduced when potassium (K) in soil is deficient. As a beneficial element for plants, silicon (Si) is effective in alleviating the toxic effects of mineral nutrients. However, the roles played by Si in mediating deficiency in essential mineral nutrients in general and K in particular have not been investigated. METHODS: To evaluate the role of Si in K deficiency-induced inhibition of growth of soybean (Glycine max) seedlings, the effects of K deficiency on shoot and root growth, hydrogen peroxide accumulation, K contents, lipid peroxidation and activities of antioxidant enzymes in the absence and presence of 2 mM sodium silicate (Na₂SiO₃) were investigated. KEY RESULTS: Both shoot and root biomass of soybean seedlings were markedly reduced when grown in K-deficient medium (1 mM K) compared with those grown in K-sufficient medium (5 mM). Addition of Na₂SiO₃ significantly ameliorated the K deficiency-induced reductions in shoot and root growth. Sodium silicate enhanced K concentrations in leaf, stem and root of K-deficient seedlings by 105·4, 83·4 and 58·8 %, respectively. Hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) and malondialdehyde (MDA) contents in soybean seedlings were increased by 25 and 97 %, respectively, when exposed to K-deficient medium. These increases in accumulation of H₂O₂ and MDA were removed by addition of Na₂SiO₃. Addition of Na₂SiO₃ reduced the K deficiency-induced increases in activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase and peroxidase. CONCLUSIONS: Application of Si to soybean seedlings grown in K-deficient medium markedly enhanced K use efficiency. Therefore, Si not only increases tolerance to nutrient toxicity, but also ameliorates symptoms associated with deficiency in essential nutrients in plants.