The influence of silicon on barley growth, photosynthesis and ultra-structure under chromium stress

Shafaqat Ali, Muhammad Ahsan Farooq, Tahira Yasmeen, Sabir Hussain, Muhammad Saleem Arif, Farhat Abbas, Saima Aslam Bharwana, Guoping Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


Silicon (Si) is generally considered as a benefic element for higher plants, especially for those grown under abiotic stressed environments. Current study is carried out in a hydroponic experiment to analyze the effect of Si application on barley growth, photosynthesis and ultra-structure under chromium (Cr) stress. The treatments consisted of three Si (0, 1 and 2mM) and two Cr (0 and 100μM) levels. The results showed that Si application at both levels enhanced plant growth relative to the control, and alleviated Cr toxicity, reflected by significant increase in growth and photosynthetic parameters, such as SPAD value, net photosynthetic rate (Pn), cellular CO2 concentration (Ci), stomatal conductance (Gs) and transpiration rate (Tr), and chlorophyll fluorescence efficiency (Fv/Fm), with 2mM Si having greater effect than 1mM Si. Cr stress caused ultra-structural disorders in leaves, such as uneven swelling of chloroplast, increased amount of plastoglobuli, disintegrated and disappeared thylakoid membranes, increased size and number of starch granules in leaves, and root ultra-structural modification, including increased vacuolar size, presence of Cr metal in cell walls and vacuoles, disruption and disappearance of nucleus. Exogenous Si alleviated these ultra-structural disorders both in roots and leaves. Apparently, Si and Cr behaved antagonistically, indicating that Si could be a candidate for Cr detoxification in crops under Cr-contaminated soil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alleviation
  • Barley
  • Chromium
  • Silicon
  • Toxicity


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