Silicon (Si) is as an important fertilizer element, which has been found effective in enhancing plant tolerance to variety of biotic and a-biotic stresses. This study investigates the Si potential to alleviate zinc (Zn) toxicity stress in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Cotton plants were grown in hydroponics and exposed to different Zn concentration, 0, 25, and 50 μM, alone and/or in combination with 1 mM Si. Incremental Zn concentration in growth media instigated the cellular oxidative damage that was evident from elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), electrolyte leakage, and malondialdehyde (MDA) and consequently inhibited cotton growth, biomass, chlorophyll pigments, and photosynthetic process. Application of Si significantly suppressed Zn accumulation in various plant parts, i.e., roots, stems, and leaves and thus promoted biomass, photosynthetic, growth parameters, and antioxidant enzymes activity of Zn-stressed as well unstressed plants. In addition, Si reduced the MDA and H2O2 production and electrolyte leakage suggesting its role in protecting cotton plants from Zn toxicity-induced oxidative damage. Thus, the study indicated that exogenous Si application could improve growth and development of cotton crop experiencing Zn toxicity stress by limiting Zn bioavailability and oxidative damage.
- Antioxidant enzymes