Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Wheat and the Role of Silicon: An Experimental Evidence

  • Mukhtar AhmedEmail author
  • Ummara Qadeer
  • Fayayz-ul-Hassan
  • Shah Fahad
  • Wajid Naseem
  • Saowapa Duangpan
  • Shakeel Ahmad


Silicon (Si) has beneficial effect on crop growth and development under water stress condition. The study about the effect of silicon application on growth and water relation of wheat under water-limited conditions was carried out in pots at PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Seeds of two cultivars, i.e., NARC-2009 and Chakwal-50, were taken from the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC). In this experiment, as the source of silicon, silicic acid, sodium silicate, and silica gel were used in the silicon-applied treatments. The effect of silicic acid, sodium silicate, and silica gel at rate of 0.5%, 1.0%, and 1.5% solution was investigated for germination, physiological, and yield traits, and it was compared with control. Physiological parameters like leaf membrane stability index, epicuticular wax, crop growth rate, relative water content, stomatal conductance, transpiration rate, photosynthetic rate, leaf area, leaf area index, chlorophyll contents, leaf succulence, relative leaf water contents, silicon concentration in leaves, and proline contents were measured. The results depicted that different silicon rates and application levels have a significant impact upon crop growth and development. Wheat crop responded well to silicon priming treatments. Maximum grain yield was obtained for silica gel with 1.5% silicon application level, whereas minimum grain yield was obtained by control treatment. Similarly, genotypes responded significantly to silicon priming treatments for grain production. Cultivar NARC-2009 performed well under different silicon regime of the rainfed zone of pothwar, while cultivar Chakwal-50 gave less seed production. Silicon priming could be a good viable option in the future to cope abiotic stress.


Silicon Water stress Silicic acid Sodium silicate Silica gel Physiological parameters Grain yield 


  1. Agarie S, Hanaoka N, Ueno O, Miyazaki A, Kubota F, Agata W, Kaufman PB (1998) Effects of silicon on tolerance to water deficit and heat stress in rice plants (Oryza sativa L.), monitored by electrolyte leakage. Plant Prod Sci 1:96–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aggarwal P (2008) Global climate change and Indian agriculture: impacts, adaptation and mitigation. Indian J Agric Sci 78:911Google Scholar
  3. Ahmad F, Rahmatullah T, Aziz MA, Maqsood A, Tahir M, Kanwal S (2007) Effect of silicon application on wheat (Triticum aestivum L) growth under water deficiency stress. Emir J Food Agric 19(2):01–07CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ahmed M, Hassen F, Khurshid Y (2011) Does silicon and irrigation have impact on drought tolerance mechanism of sorghum? Agric Water Mgt 98:1808–1812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alvarez J, Datnoff LE (2001) The economic potential of silicon for integrated management and sustainable rice production. Crop Prot 20:43–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arif N, Yadav V, Singh S, Singh S, Ahmad P, Mishra RK, Sharma S, Tripathi DK, Dubey NK, Chauhan DK (2016) Influence of high and low levels of plant-beneficial heavy metal ions on plant growth and development. Front Environ Sci 4:69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Avestan S, Ghasemnezhad M, Esfahani M, Byrt CS (2019) Application of Nano-silicon dioxide improves salt stress tolerance in strawberry plants. Agronomy 9:246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Azeem M, Iqbal N, Kausar S, Javed MT, Akram MS, Sajid MA (2015) Efficacy of silicon priming and fertigation to modulate seedling’s vigor and ion homeostasis in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under saline environment. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 22:14367–14371. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Bates LS, Waldren RP, Teare ID (1973) Rapid determination of free proline for water stress studies. Plant Soil 39:205–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Birsin MA (2005) Effects of removal of some photosynthetic structures on some yield components in wheat. Tarim Bilimleri Dergisi 11:364–367Google Scholar
  11. Chandrasekar V, Sarium RK, Srivastava GC (2000) Physiology and biological response of hexaploid and tetraploid wheat to stress. J Agron Crop Sci 18:219–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chang-juan S (2006) Effect of Soil Drought on the photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate and water use efficiency of the seedlings of four winter wheat varieties. J Henan Agric Sci 1–11Google Scholar
  13. Chen D, Wang S, Yin L, Deng X (2018) How does silicon mediate plant water uptake and loss under water deficiency? Front Plant Sci 9:281PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conrath U (2011) Molecular aspects of defence priming. Trends Plant Sci 16:524–531PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Coskun D, Britto DT, Huynh WQ, Kronzucker HJ (2016) The role of silicon in higher plants under salinity and drought stress. Front Plant Sci 7:1072PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dagmar D, Simone H, Wolfgang B, Rüdiger F, Bäucker E, Rühle G, Otto W, Günter M (2003) Silica accumulation in Triticum aestivum L. and Dactylis glomerata L. Anal Bioanal Chem 376(3):399–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Melo SP, Korndörfer GH, Korndörfer CM, Lana RMQ, De Santana DG (2003) Silicon accumulation and water deficit tolerance in brachiaria grasses. Sci Agric 60:755–759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dehghanipoodeh S, Ghobadi C, Baninasab B, Gheysari M, Shiranibidabadi S (2018) Effect of silicon on growth and development of strawberry under water deficit conditions. Hortic Plant J 4:226–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gong HJ, Chen KM, Chen GC, Wang SM, Zhang CL (2003) Effects of silicon on growth of wheat under drought. J Plant Nutr 26(2003):1055–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gong HJ, Chen KM, Chen GC, Wang SM, Zhang CL (2005) Silicon alleviates oxidative damage of wheat plants in pots under drought. Plant Sci 169:313–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hattori T, Inanaga S, Tanimoto E, Lux A, Luxova M, Sugimoto Y (2005a) Silicon-induced changes in viscoelastic properties of sorghum root cell walls. Plant Cell Physiol 44:743–749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hattori T, Inanaga S, Araki H, An P, Mortia S, Luxova M, Lux A (2005b) Application of silicon enhanced drought tolerance in sorghum bicolor. Physiol Plant 123:459–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hodson MJ, Sangster AG (1988) Observations on the distribution of mineral elements in the leaf of wheat (Triticum aestivum L), with particular reference to silicon. Ann Bot 62:463–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Humayun MS, da Cruz L, Dagnelie G, Mohand-Said S, Stanga P, Agrawal RN, Greenberg RJ, Argus II Study Group (2010) Interim performance results from the second sight(R) ArgusTM II retinal prosthesis study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2022:51. [ARVO e-abstract]Google Scholar
  25. Janmohammadi M, Sabaghnia N (2015) Effect of pre-sowing seed treatments with silicon nanoparticles on germinability of sunflower (Helianthus Annuus). Bot Lith 21(1):13–21. Retrieved 31 Mar 2018, from CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Joanna M, Simone H, Werner GA, Gunter M, Rudiger F, Ernst B, Otto W (2007) Effect of silicon fertilizers on silicon accumulation in wheat. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 17:769–772Google Scholar
  27. Korndorfer GH, Lepsch I (2001) Effect of silicon on plant growth and crop yield. In: Silicon in agriculture: studies in plant science, vol 8. Elsevier Science B.V, Amsterdam, pp 115–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Korndörfer GH, Lepsch I (2001) Chapter 7 effect of silicon on plant growth and crop yield. In: Datnoff LE, Snyder GH, Korndörfer GH (eds) Studies in plant science. ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  29. Latef AAA, Tran L-SP (2016) Impacts of priming with silicon on the growth and tolerance of maize plants to alkaline stress. Front Plant Sci 7(243).
  30. Liang Y, Chen Q, Liu Q, Zhang W, Ding R (2003) Exogenous silicon (Si) increases antioxidant enzyme activity and reduces lipid peroxidation in roots of salt-stressed barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). J Plant Physiol 160:157–1164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Liang Y, Si J, R¨omheld V (2005) Silicon uptake and transport is an active process in Cucumis sativus. New Phytol 167:797–804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Long SP, Bernacchi CJ (2003) Gas exchange measurements, what can they tell us about the underlying limitation to photosynthesis? Procedure and sources of error. J Exp Bot 54:2393–2401PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Lux A, Luxova M, Hattori T, Inanaga S, Sugimoto Y (2002) Silicification in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) cultivars with different drought tolerance. Physiol Plant 115:87–92PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Ma JF, Miyake Y, Takahashi E (2001) Silicon as a beneficial element for crop plants. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, pp 17–39Google Scholar
  35. Ma JF, Tamai K, Yamaji N, Mitani N, Konishi S, Katsuhara M, Ishiguro M, Murata Y, Yano M (2006) A silicon transporter in rice. Nature 440:688–691PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Maghsoudi K, Emam Y, Pessarakli M (2016) Effect of silicon on photosynthetic gas exchange, photosynthetic pigments, cell membrane stability and relative water content of different wheat cultivars under drought stress conditions. J Plant Nutr 39:1001–1015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mamrutha HM, Singh R, Sharma D, Venkatesh K, Pandey GC, Kumar R, Tiwari R, Sharma I (2019) Physiological and molecular basis of abiotic stress tolerance in wheat. In: Rajpal VR, Sehgal D, Kumar A, Raina SN (eds) Genetic enhancement of crops for tolerance to abiotic stress: mechanisms and approaches, vol I. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
  38. Mali M, Aery NC (2008) Influence of silicon on growth, relative water contents and uptake of silicon, calcium and potassium in wheat grown in nutrient Sol. J Plant Nutr 31:1867–1876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Matichenkov VV, Bocharnikova EA, Ammosova JM (2001) The influence of silicon fertilizers on the plants and soils. Agrochemistry 12:30–37Google Scholar
  40. Mecfel J, Hinke S, Goedel WA, Marx G, Fehlhaber R, Bäucker E, Wienhaus O (2007) Effect of silicon fertilizers on silicon accumulation in wheat. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 170:769–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Monneveux P, Sánchez C, Beck D, Edmeades GO (2006) Drought tolerance improvement in tropical maize source populations: evidence of progress. Crop Sci 46:180–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mukkram AT, Rahmatullah AT, Ashraf M, Shamsa K, Maqsood MA (2006) Beneficial effects of Silicon in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under salinity stress. Pak J Bot 38(5):1715–1722Google Scholar
  43. Paknejad F, Nasri M, Moghadam HT, Zahedi H, Alahmadi MJ (2007) Effects of drought stress on chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, chlorophyll content and grain yield of wheat cultivars. J Biol Sci 7:841–847CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rodrigues FA, Datnoff LE (eds) (2015) Silicon and plant diseases. Springer, Cham, pp 67–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rodrigues FÁ, McNally DJ, Datnoff LE, Jones JB, Labbe C, Benhamou N, Menzies JG, Bélanger RR (2004) Silicon enhances the accumulation of diterpenoid phytoalexins in rice: a potential mechanism for blast resistance. Phytopathology 94:177–183PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. Romero-Arnada MR, Jourado O, Cuartero J (2006) Silicon alleviates the deleterious salt effects on tomato plant growth by improving plant water status. J Plant Phy 163(8):847–855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sundahri T, Bell CJ, Salel PWG, Peries R (2001) Response of canola and wheat to applied silicate and gypsum on raised beds. Proc. 10th Australian Agronomy Conference 2001. Available online
  48. Savant NK, Korndorfer GH, Datnoff LE, Snyder GH (1999) Silicon nutrition and sugarcane production: a review. J Plant Nutr 22:1853–1903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shu LZ, Liu YH (2001) Effects of silicon on growth of maize seedlings under salt stress. Agro-Environ Prot 20:38–40Google Scholar
  50. Silva FAM, Baker EA, Martin JT (1964) Studies of plant cuticle vi. The isolation and fractionation of cuticular waxes. Ann Appl Biol 53:43–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Singh K, Singh R, Singh JP, Singh Y, Singh KK (2006) Effect of level and time of silicon application on growth, yield and its uptake by rice (Oryza sativa). Indian J Agric Sci 76(7):410–413Google Scholar
  52. Tamai K, Ma JF (2008) Reexamination of silicon effects on rice growth and production under field conditions using a low silicon mutant. Plant Soil 307:21–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Bockhaven J, De Vleesschauwer D, Hofte M (2013) Towards establishing broad-spectrum disease resistance in plants: silicon leads the way. J Exp Bot 64:1281–1293. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. van Hulten M, Pelser M, Van Loon LC, Pieterse CMJ, Ton J (2006) Costs and benefits of priming for defense in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:5602–5607. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  55. Wang M, Gao L, Dong S, Sun Y, Shen Q, Guo S (2017) Role of silicon on plant-pathogen interactions. Front Plant Sci 8:701–701PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ye M, Song Y, Long J, Wang R, Baerson SR, Pan Z et al (2013) Priming of jasmonate-mediated antiherbivore defense responses in rice by silicon. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:E3631–E3639. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Yeo AR, Flowers SA, Rao G, Welfare K, Senanayake N, Flowers TJ (1999) Silicon reduces sodium uptake in rice (Oryza sativa L.) in saline conditions and this is accounted for by a reduction in the transpirational bypass flow. Plant Cell Environ 22:559–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Younis ME, El-Shahaby OA, Abo-Hamed SA, Ibrahim AH (2000) Effects of water stress on growth, pigments and 14CO2 assimilation in three sorghum cultivars. J Agron Crop Sci 185:73–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zhao H, Guo C, Duan W, Qi Y, Wang X, Li Y, Xiao K (2007) Studies on evaluation indices for drought resistance capacity in wheat varieties. J Plant Genet Resour 1:76–81Google Scholar
  60. Zhu Z, Wei G, Li J, Qian Q, Yu J (2004) Silicon alleviates salt stress and increases antioxidant enzymes activity in leaves of salt-stressed cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). Plant Sci 167:527–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhu Y-X, Gong H-J, Yin J-L (2019) Role of silicon in mediating salt tolerance in plants: a review. Plants 8:147PubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mukhtar Ahmed
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Ummara Qadeer
    • 1
  • Fayayz-ul-Hassan
    • 1
  • Shah Fahad
    • 4
  • Wajid Naseem
    • 5
  • Saowapa Duangpan
    • 6
  • Shakeel Ahmad
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyPir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture UniversityRawalpindiPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Research for Northern SwedenSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Department of Biological Systems EngineeringWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  4. 4.Department of AgricultureUniversity of SwabiSwabiPakistan
  5. 5.Department of Agronomy, University College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences (UCA&ES)Islamia University of BahawalpurBahawalpurPakistan
  6. 6.Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Natural ResourcesPrince of Songkla UniversitySongklaThailand
  7. 7.Department of AgronomyBahauddin Zakariya UniversityMultanPakistan

Personalised recommendations