Silicon accumulation in rice plant aboveground biomass affects leaf carbon quality

  • Jörg SchallerEmail author
  • Robin Heimes
  • Jian Feng Ma
  • Jean-Dominique Meunier
  • Ji Feng Shao
  • Miho Fujii-Kashino
  • Klaus Holger Knorr
Regular Article


Background and aim

Silicon is known to be able to substitute carbon in plant biomass, especially in cellulose, lignin and phenols. However, a more comprehensive picture regarding the effect of silicon accumulation on plant carbon quality (cellulose, lignin, phenol, wax, lipids, and free organic acids content) with regard to potential decomposability is still missing.


Two different rice varieties (French brown and red rice cultivars) were cultivated under five different soil silicon availabilities. After maturity we harvested the plants and analyzed them regarding carbon quality by FTIR spectroscopy and regarding plant silicon concentrations.


Silicon accumulation was found to be dependent on silicon availability and on the specific rice cultivar. The lowering of carbon compounds content by silicon was found not to be restricted to cellulose, lignin and phenol. Silicon accumulation was able to decrease other carbon compounds such as fat, wax, lipids, and free organic acids, too.


Consequently, silicon is important for the carbon quality of silicon accumulating plants. Furthermore, silicon accumulation in plants is interfering with a large range of different carbon compounds potentially altering the leaf economic spectra, decomposability, and thus potentially interfering with the whole performance of ecosystems dominated by silicon accumulating plant species.


Carbon compounds Carbon quality Rice pigmentation Rice plant tissues Silica Silicon 



We are grateful to Johannes Stemper for help during plant cultivation, Cyrille Thomas (Centre Français du Riz) for providing the soil and discussion on cultivation practices, Stefan Will for ICP-MS and Central Analytics (all University of Bayreuth) for ICP-OES measurements. FTIR spectra were recorded at the central laboratory of the Institute of Landscape Ecology, University of Münster. The help of Henning Teickner in evaluation of FTIR spectra is greatly acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11104_2019_4267_MOESM1_ESM.doc (3.7 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 3795 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Geochemistry, Bayreuth Center for Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER)University BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Science and ResourcesOkayama UniversityKurashikiJapan
  3. 3.Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, Coll. France, INRA, CEREGAix-en-ProvenceFrance
  4. 4.Ecohydrology & Biogeochemistry Group, Institute of Landscape EcologyUniversity MünsterMünsterGermany

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