Silicon (Si) is a beneficial element that alleviates the effects of stress factors including drought (D). Strawberry is a Si-accumulator species sensitive to D; however, the function of Si in this species is obscure.
A study was conducted to examine the effect of Si and inoculation with an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) on physiological and biochemical responses of strawberry plants under D. Plants were grown for six weeks in perlite and irrigated with a nutrient solution. The effect of Si (3 mmol L−1), AMF (Rhizophagus clarus) and D (mild and severe D) was studied on growth, water relations, mycorrhization, antioxidative defense, osmolytes concentration, and micronutrients status.
Si and AMF significantly enhanced plant biomass production by increasing photosynthesis rate, water content and use efficiency, antioxidant enzyme defense, and the nutritional status of particularly Zn. In contrast to the roots, osmotic adjustment did not contribute to the increase of leaf water content suggesting a different strategy of both Si and AMF for improving water status in the leaves and roots.
The results demonstrated a synergistic effect of AMF and Si on improving the growth of strawberry not only under D but also under control conditions.