Silicon alleviates copper (Cu) toxicity in cucumber by increased Cu-binding capacity

  • Dragana Bosnić
  • Dragana Nikolić
  • Gordana Timotijević
  • Jelena Pavlović
  • Marek Vaculík
  • Jelena Samardžić
  • Miroslav NikolićEmail author
Regular Article



Although silicon (Si) is known to increase plant resistance to metal toxicity stress, the mechanisms responsible for alleviation of copper (Cu) toxicity are still insufficiently clear. We investigated the role of Si on Cu-binding processes involved in buffering excessive Cu in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) tissues.


Cucumber plants were subjected to moderate Cu toxicity stress (10 μM Cu) without (−Si) or with (+Si) supply of 1.5 mM Si. We analyzed total and cell wall concentrations of Cu and Cu-binding compounds (organic acids and Cu-proteins) along with parameters of oxidative stress (e.g. lipid peroxidation and lignification).


Supply of Si decreased total Cu concentration in both root and leaf tissues, but increased the root cell wall Cu fraction. Also, Si increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in 10 μM Cu-treated plants. Concomitantly, protein levels of Cu/Zn SOD isoforms (CSD1 and CSD2) in root tissues also increased in +Si plants. The leaf Cu-binding compounds, such as aconitate and plastocyanin (including the expression of CsPC gene) were higher in the +Si plants. Consequently, Si supply effectively lowered lipid peroxidation in both roots and leaves of Cu-stressed plants.


Supply of Si enhanced both the accumulation of Cu-binding molecules (Zn/Cu SOD in roots; aconitate and plastocyanin in leaves), and the Cu-binding capacity of the root cell wall.


Cell wall SOD Copper toxicity Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) Plastocyanin Silicon 



This work was supported by the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (ON-173005 and ON-173028) and in part by the grant of bilateral scientific cooperation between Serbia and Slovakia SK-SRB-2013-0021 (451-03-545/2015-09/02). We thank Dr. Nina Nikolic (University of Belgrade, Serbia) for critical reading of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Plant Molecular Biology, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic EngineeringUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Department of Plant Nutrition, Institute for Multidisciplinary ResearchUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  3. 3.Department of Plant Physiology, Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius University in BratislavaBratislavaSlovakia
  4. 4.Institute of Botany, Plant Science and Biodiversity CentreSlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia

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