Copper (Cu) toxicity in plants may lead to iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and manganese (Mn) deficiencies. Here, we investigated the effect of Si and Fe supply on the concentrations of micronutrients and metal-chelating amino acids nicotianamine (NA) and histidine (His) in leaves of cucumber plants exposed to Cu in excess. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) was treated with 10 µM Cu, and additional 100 µM Fe or/and 1.5 mM Si for five days. High Cu and decreased Zn, Fe and Mn concentrations were found in Cu treatment. Additional Fe supply had a more pronounced effect in decreasing Cu accumulation and improving the molar ratio between micronutrients as compared to the Si supply. However, the simultaneous supply of Fe and Si was the most effective treatment in alleviation of Cu-induced deficiency of Fe, Zn and Mn. Additional Fe supply increased the His but not NA concentration, while Si supply significantly increased both NA and His whereby the NA:Cu and His:Cu molar ratios exceeded the control values indicating that Si recruits Cu-chelation to achieve Cu tolerance. In conclusion, Si-mediated alleviation of Cu toxicity was directed toward Cu tolerance while Fe-alleviative effect was due to a dramatic decrease in Cu accumulation.
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