Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 106-115

First online:

Silicon Improves the Tolerance to Water-Deficit Stress Induced by Polyethylene Glycol in Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Seedlings

  • Z. F. PeiAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang University
  • , D. F. MingAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang UniversityDepartment of Life Sciences, Zaozhuang University
  • , D. LiuAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang University
  • , G. L. WanAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang University
  • , X. X. GengAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang University
  • , H. J. GongAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang University Email author 
  • , W. J. ZhouAffiliated withInstitute of Crop Science, Zhejiang University Email author 

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Drought stress usually causes a serious yield reduction in wheat production. Silicon (Si) has been reported to be able to alleviate drought stress damage; however, the mechanism is still poorly understood. In this article, the effects of Si (as sodium silicate) on some parameters related to oxidative damage, proline, soluble sugar, and inorganic ions in the leaves of wheat under 20% (w/v) polyethylene glycol (PEG-6000) simulative drought stress are investigated. PEG stress depressed the growth of shoot and root and decreased leaf water potential and chlorophyll concentration. Addition of 1.0 mM Si could partially improve the growth of shoot (but not root) and increase the leaf chlorophyll concentrations of stressed plants. Inclusion of Si in culture solution also maintained leaf water potential of stressed plants at the same level as that of the control plants. PEG stress induced significant accumulation of leaf hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and malondialdehyde (MDA) as well as an increase in electrolyte leakage, which were all decreased by added silicon. These results suggest that stress-induced membrane lipid peroxidation could be partly alleviated by added silicon. Moreover, the results were also supported by the observation that PEG stress-induced decrease in glutathione concentration in the leaves was reversed by added silicon. The proline concentration in the leaves was markedly increased under PEG stress, whereas added silicon partially reversed this. PEG stress decreased the leaf soluble sugar concentration. There were significant negative regressions between proline concentration and both shoot dry weight and leaf chlorophyll concentrations, whereas there were positive regressions between the proline concentration and both H2O2 and MDA concentrations in the leaves, supporting the view that proline accumulation is a symptom of stress damage rather than stress tolerance. Addition of Si obviously increased Si accumulation in the shoot. Analyses of Na, Mg, K, and Ca showed no accumulation of these ions in the shoot (on the basis of per tissue dry weight) under water stress, and added Si even decreased their concentrations. These results suggest that under short-term PEG-induced water stress conditions (1 week), antioxidant defense, rather than osmotic adjustment, contributed to the improved wheat growth by Si.


Antioxidant defense Drought stress Osmotic adjustment Silicon Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)