, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 209-223
Date: 26 Sep 2008

The reserve of weatherable primary silicates impacts the accumulation of biogenic silicon in volcanic ash soils

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Abstract

Banana plantlets (Musa acuminata cv Grande Naine) cultivated in hydroponics take up silicon proportionally to the concentration of Si in the nutrient solution (0–1.66 mM Si). Here we study the Si status of banana plantlets grown under controlled greenhouse conditions on five soils developed from andesitic volcanic ash, but differing in weathering stage. The mineralogical composition of soils was inferred from X-ray diffraction, elemental analysis and selective chemical/mineralogical extractions. With increasing weathering, the content of weatherable primary minerals decreased. Conversely, clay content increased and stable secondary minerals were increasingly dominant: gibbsite, Fe oxides, allophane, halloysite and kaolinite. The contents of biogenic Si in plant and soil were governed by the reserve of weatherable primary minerals. The largest concentrations of biogenic Si in plant (6.9–7 g kg−1) and soil (50–58 g kg−1) occurred in the least weathered soils, where total Si content was above 225 g kg−1. The lowest contents of biogenic Si in plant (2.8–4.3 g kg−1) and soil (8–31 g kg−1) occurred in the most weathered desilicated soils enriched with secondary oxides and clay minerals. Our data imply that soil weathering stage directly impacted the soil-to-plant transfer of silicon, and thereby the stock of biogenic Si in a soil–plant system involving a Si-accumulating plant. They further imply that soil type can influence the silicon soil–plant cycle and its hydrological output.