Növénytermelés / Volume 65 / Issue 3 (September 2016) / pp. 31-54


Biogenic silica content and its potential correlation with crop yield in maize (Zea mays L.)

The physiological role of silicon (Si) varies within the different plant families and the quantity of Si accumulation is genetically fixed. The effectiveness of Si accumulation for stress tolerance is reported by several studies. The aim of our research was to study the physiological role of biogenic Si accumulation to be used in agricultural production and plant breeding.

Leaves, spathe, cob and caryopses (kernels) from three different phenophases of ten different maize hybrids were sampled. Temporal changing of biogenic silica content, correlation of biogenic silica accumulation and crop yield were studied in phenophases with 3–5 leaves (BBCH scale: 13) as well as with 11–13 leaves (BBCH scale: 53), and in phenophase with young cob (BBCH scale: 65) of both control and treated (fertilised) experimental plots. All measurements were conducted in four replications.

The bSi accumulation of later developing leaves near the shoot top was more intensive than the leaves in similar position of younger plant. Spathe showed the most intensive bSi accumulation that increases the resistance of generative shoots against biotic or abiotic stress factors. Our results suggest that these temporal and spatial silicon distribution patterns are not affected by fertilisation, but it somewhat inhibits Si accumulation. However, correlation between bSi content of fertilised plants and crop yield was closer than in the control plants showing that in spite of increased uptake of Si affects crop yield positively.

Significant differences in aspect of Si accumulation could not be confirmed among these hybrids, but Si accumulation characteristics are genetically determined for a hybrid. These first results suppose that the adaptability of maize hybrids can be estimated based on the biogenic Si content of the dry matter. Besides kernels, but the bSi content of the uppermost leaves may be also used for this estimation, as well as the spathe might also be indicative. The role of silicon metabolism in plants is worth studying further.

Keywords: biogenic silica, crop yield, maize hybrids, Si accumulation, Zea mays L

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