, Volume 74, Issue 8, pp 929–939 | Cite as

Barley and spelt differ in leaf silicon content and other leaf traits

  • Mateja GrašičEmail author
  • Barbara Škoda
  • Aleksandra Golob
  • Katarina Vogel-Mikuš
  • Alenka Gaberščik
Original Article


Silicon is considered to be a beneficial element for plants, improving their potential to overcome various stress conditions. Accumulation of silicon differs across different plant species and during plant development, leading to differences in their sensitivity to environmental constraints. We studied the leaf contents of silicon and some other elements for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and spelt (Triticum spelta L.) in their vegetative and reproductive stages, while also monitoring the different morphological, biochemical, and optical leaf traits. For barley, the leaf silicon and calcium contents were 1.6% and 1.1%, respectively, and for spelt, they were 1.4% and 0.6%, respectively. There were considerable morphological differences between these two species, including significantly higher prickle hair density in barley, which was positively related to leaf contents of phytoliths, silicon, and calcium. The reflectance of the barley leaves was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) positively related to leaf phytolith and silicon contents throughout the whole spectrum, while light transmittance was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) negatively related to leaf phytolith and silicon contents in the visible and near infrared regions. For spelt, there were no such correlations. Barley showed a significant increase in total and phytolith-bound silicon in the leaves from the vegetative to reproductive stage, which was not the case in spelt. Differences between barley and spelt were also observed in stomata density and length, which would also affect water management in these plants, and thus also their uptake of silicon and calcium.


Hordeum vulgare L. Triticum spelta L. Vegetative stage Reproductive stage Silicon accumulation 



The authors are grateful to Christopher Berrie for revision of the English writing. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency through core research funding for the programme Plant Biology (P1-0212), and the project Young Researchers (39096).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre, Slovak Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Biotechnical FacultyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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