Silicon Helps Corn Grow Better and Resist Boron Toxicity in Hydroponic Systems

Jenn Hoskins
15th June, 2024

Silicon Helps Corn Grow Better and Resist Boron Toxicity in Hydroponic Systems

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study at the University of Maragheh found that applying silicon (Si) to maize plants can reduce the toxic effects of excessive boron (B)
  • Silicon application increased both fresh and dry weight of maize plants, even under high boron stress
  • Silicon helped maintain higher chlorophyll levels in maize leaves, improving photosynthesis and overall plant health under boron toxicity
Boron (B) is an essential plant micronutrient, but excessive levels can cause phytotoxicity, impaired growth, and reduced photosynthesis. This issue arises from over-fertilization, high soil B levels, or irrigation with B-rich water. Conversely, silicon (Si) is recognized for its ability to mitigate stress and alleviate the toxic effects of certain nutrients. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maragheh aimed to evaluate the effect of different concentrations of Si on maize under boron stress conditions[1]. Plants require at least 14 mineral elements for their nutrition, including both macronutrients and micronutrients, which they generally obtain from the soil[2]. Boron is one such micronutrient, playing a crucial role in plant metabolism by stabilizing molecules with cis-diol groups and participating in numerous ion, metabolite, and hormone transport reactions[3]. However, boron has an extremely narrow range between deficiency and toxicity, making its management in agriculture particularly challenging. The study by the University of Maragheh used a factorial experiment based on a randomized complete block design with three replications in a hydroponic system. The experiment utilized a nutrient solution for maize var. Merit that contained three different boron concentrations (0.5, 2, and 4 mg Lāˆ’1) and three Si concentrations (0, 28, and 56 mg Lāˆ’1). The results of this study are significant because they offer a potential method to mitigate boron toxicity in crops. The application of silicon at different concentrations was found to alleviate the toxic effects of excessive boron. This finding is consistent with previous research that has highlighted the beneficial role of silicon in defending plants from various stresses, including water-deficit stress in sugarcane[4]. In the context of boron, soil boron toxicity can be ameliorated using various procedures, but these approaches are often costly and temporary[3]. The study at the University of Maragheh provides a more sustainable solution by demonstrating that silicon can effectively reduce boron toxicity in maize. This aligns with the broader goal of optimizing fertilizer applications for economic and environmental sustainability[2]. The methodology involved growing maize plants in a controlled hydroponic system, which allowed for precise manipulation of nutrient concentrations. This setup ensured that the observed effects were due to the treatments applied rather than other environmental factors. By using three different concentrations of both boron and silicon, the researchers could assess the interaction between these two elements and determine the optimal conditions for mitigating boron toxicity. The findings suggest that silicon enhances the operation of the antioxidant defense machinery in plants, which in turn improves plant performance under stress conditions[4]. This is particularly relevant for crops like maize, which are essential for global food security. By mitigating boron toxicity, silicon application can help ensure stable yields and reduce the risk of crop failure due to nutrient imbalances. In conclusion, the study conducted by the University of Maragheh provides valuable insights into the role of silicon in alleviating boron toxicity in maize. This research builds on previous findings regarding the importance of mineral nutrition and stress mitigation in plants[2][3][4]. By offering a sustainable solution to a common agricultural problem, this study contributes to the broader goal of achieving food security and optimizing agricultural practices for economic and environmental sustainability.

AgricultureBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Role of silicon in alleviating boron toxicity and enhancing growth and physiological traits in hydroponically cultivated Zea mays var. Merit

Published 14th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Plant nutrition for sustainable development and global health.

3) Boron Toxicity and Deficiency in Agricultural Plants.

4) Foliar application of silicon boosts growth, photosynthetic leaf gas exchange, antioxidative response and resistance to limited water irrigation in sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.).

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