Mineral nutrient homeostasis is essential for plant growth and development. Recent research has demonstrated that the occurrence of interactions among the mechanisms regulating the homeostasis of different nutrients in plants is a general rule rather than an exception. Therefore, it is important to understand how plants regulate the homeostasis of these elements and how multiple mineral nutrient signals are wired to influence plant growth. Silicon (Si) is not directly involved in plant metabolism but it is an essential element for a high and sustainable production of crops, especially rice, because of its high content in the total shoot dry weight. Although some mechanisms underlying the role of Si in plants responses to both abiotic and biotic stresses have been proposed, the involvement of Si in regulating plant growth in conditions where the availability of essential macro- and micronutrients changes remains poorly investigated. In this study, the existence of an interaction between Si, phosphate (Pi), and iron (Fe) availability was examined in lowland (Suphanburi 1, SPR1) and upland (Kum Hom Chiang Mai University, KH CMU) rice varieties. The effect of Si and/or Fe deficiency on plant growth, Pi accumulation, Pi transporter expression (OsPHO1;2
), and Pi root-to-shoot translocation in these two rice varieties grown under individual or combinatorial nutrient stress conditions were determined. The phenotypic, physiological, and molecular data of this study revealed an interesting tripartite Pi-Fe-Si homeostasis interaction that influences plant growth in contrasting manners in the two rice varieties. These results not only reveal the involvement of Si in modulating rice growth through an interaction with essential micro- and macronutrients, but, more importantly, they opens new research avenues to uncover the molecular basis of Pi-Fe-Si signaling crosstalk in plants.
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