Mechanisms of silicon-mediated alleviation of drought and salt stress in plants: a review

Muhammad Rizwan, Shafaqat Ali, Muhammad Ibrahim, Mujahid Farid, Muhammad Adrees, Saima Aslam Bharwana, Muhammad Zia-ur-Rehman, Muhammad Farooq Qayyum, Farhat Abbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

331 Citations (Scopus)


Drought and salinity are the main abiotic stresses limiting crop yield and quality worldwide. Improving food production in drought- and salt-prone areas is the key to meet the increasing food demands in near future. It has been widely reported that silicon (Si), a second most abundant element in soil, could reduce drought and salt stress in plants. Here, we reviewed the emerging role of Si in enhancing drought and salt tolerance in plants and highlighted the mechanisms through which Si could alleviate both drought and salt stress in plants. Silicon application increased plant growth, biomass, photosynthetic pigments, straw and grain yield, and quality under either drought or salt stress. Under both salt and drought stress, the key mechanisms evoked are nutrient elements homeostasis, modification of gas exchange attributes, osmotic adjustment, regulating the synthesis of compatible solutes, stimulation of antioxidant enzymes, and gene expression in plants. In addition, Si application decreased Na+ uptake and translocation while increased K+ uptake and translocation under salt stress. However, these mechanisms vary with plant species, genotype, growth conditions, duration of stress imposed, and so on. This review article highlights the potential for improving plant resistance to drought and salt stress by Si application and provides a theoretical basis for application of Si in saline soils and arid and semiarid regions worldwide. This review article also highlights the future research needs about the role of Si under drought stress and in saline soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15416-15431
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Abiotic stress
  • Antioxidants
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Osmotic adjustments
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant growth
  • Silicon
  • Tolerance


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