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Journal of experimental botany

Towards establishing broad-spectrum disease resistance in plants: silicon leads the way.


PMID 23255278

Abstract

Plants are constantly threatened by a wide array of microbial pathogens. Pathogen invasion can lead to vast yield losses and the demand for sustainable plant-protection strategies has never been greater. Chemical plant activators and selected strains of rhizobacteria can increase resistance against specific types of pathogens but these treatments are often ineffective or even cause susceptibility against others. Silicon application is one of the scarce examples of a treatment that effectively induces broad-spectrum disease resistance. The prophylactic effect of silicon is considered to be the result of both passive and active defences. Although the phenomenon has been known for decades, very little is known about the molecular basis of silicon-afforded disease control. By combining knowledge on how silicon interacts with cell metabolism in diatoms and plants, this review describes silicon-induced regulatory mechanisms that might account for broad-spectrum plant disease resistance. Priming of plant immune responses, alterations in phytohormone homeostasis, regulation of iron homeostasis, silicon-driven photorespiration and interaction with defence signalling components all are potential mechanisms involved in regulating silicon-triggered resistance responses. Further elucidating how silicon exerts its beneficial properties may create new avenues for developing plants that are better able to withstand multiple attackers.

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