The relationship between silicon availability, and growth and silicon concentration of the salt marsh halophyte Spartina anglica

N. De Bakker, M.A. Hemminga, J. Van Soelen

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    Analysis of silicon concentrations of various halophytes from salt marshes in the S.W. Netherlands shows that the silicon concentration of Spartina anglica (Gramineae) is relatively high. To study the influence of dissolved Si concentrations on growth and plant tissue concentrations of S. anglica, silicic acid was introduced into the sediment of natural patches of this halophyte occurring on a tidal flat. This resulted in a strong increase in dissolved silicon levels in the sediment porewater. In addition, S. anglica was cultured in the laboratory on nutrient solution enriched with dissolved silicon. Neither in the field nor in the laboratory experiment did the increased silicon levels have effects on shoot growth or led to consistent increases in the silicon concentration of plant tissues. Finally, different S. anglica stands in a number of salt marshes around the Oosterschelde basin were examined on sediment porewater silicon concentrations and silicon plant tissue concentrations. Sediment porewater silicon levels ranged between 36 and 554 mu M. The average silicon concentration of the shoots from the various populations ranged between 3.52 and 11.73 mg/g DW. Consistent with the results of the field and laboratory experiments, there was no correlation between porewater silicon concentrations and average shoot length at the different sites, nor between porewater silicon concentrations and shoot silicon levels. Apparently, vegetative growth and tissue silicon concentrations of S. anglica do not respond to concentrations of dissolved Si in the range to which the plants were exposed naturally or experimentally in the field and in the laboratory (ca. 15-550 mu M). In the data set pertaining to the different S. anglica field populations, however, negative correlations were observed between the average number of leaves per shoot at the different locations and the total silicon content of the 4th and 2nd leaves and of the entire shoots. The possible mechanisms explaining differences in tissue Si concentrations are discussed. [KEYWORDS: growth; porewater; salt marshes; silicon; Spartina; tissue concentrations Cucumber plants; ash; deposition; tolerance; transport; grasses; tissues; wheat; yield; rice]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-27
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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