Application of nano-silicon dioxide improves salt stress tolerance in strawberry plants

Silicon application can improve productivity outcomes for salt stressed plants. A new study describes how strawberry plants respond to treatments including various combinations of salt stress and nano-silicon dioxide, assessing whether nano-silicon dioxide improves strawberry plant tolerance to salt stress.

Strawberry plants were treated with salt (0, 25 or 50 mM NaCl), and the nano-silicon dioxide treatments were applied to the strawberry plants before (0, 50 and 100 mg L−1) or after (0 and 50 mg L−1) flowering. The salt stress treatments reduced plant biomass, chlorophyll content, and leaf relative water content (RWC) as expected.

Relative to control (no NaCl) plants the salt treated plants had 10% lower membrane stability index (MSI), 81% greater proline content, and 54% greater cuticular transpiration; as well as increased canopy temperature and changes in the structure of the epicuticular wax layer. The plants treated with nano-silicon dioxide were better able to maintain epicuticular wax structure, chlorophyll content, and carotenoid content and accumulated less proline relative to plants treated only with salt and no nano-silicon dioxide.

Analysis of scanning electron microscopic (SEM) images revealed that the salt treatments resulted in changes in epicuticular wax type and thickness, and that the application of nano-silicon dioxide suppressed the adverse effects of salinity on the epicuticular wax layer. Nano-silicon dioxide treated salt stressed plants had increased irregular (smoother) crystal wax deposits in their epicuticular layer.

Together these observations indicate that application of nano-silicon dioxide can limit the adverse anatomical and biochemical changes related to salt stress impacts on strawberry plants and that this is, in part, associated with epicuticular wax deposition.

Access the full study at Agronomy.

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