Silicon (Si) is an abundant element which, when supplied to plants, confers increased vigor and resistance to exogenous stresses, as well as enhanced stem mechanical strength. Plant species vary in their ability to take Si up and to accumulate it under the form of silicon dioxide (SiO2
) in their tissues: emblematic of this is the example of Poales, among which there is rice, a high Si accumulator. Monocots usually accumulate more Si than dicots; however, the impact that Si has on dicots, notably on economically important dicots, is a subject requiring further study and scientific efforts. In this review, we discuss the impact that Si has on bast fibre-producing plants, because of the potential importance that this element has in sustainable agriculture practices and in light of the great economic value of fibre crops in fostering a bio-economy. We discuss the data already available in the literature, as well as our own research on textile hemp. In particular, we demonstrate the beneficial effect of Si under heavy metal stress, by showing an increase in the leaf fresh weight under growth on Cd 20 µM. Additionally, we propose an effect of Si on bast fibre growth, by suggesting an action on the endogenous phytohormone levels and a mechanical role involved in the resistance to the turgor pressure during elongation. We conclude our survey with a description of the industrial and agricultural uses of Si-enriched plant biomass, where woody fibres are included in the survey.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited