The usage of silicon fertilisation in order to mitigate the oxidative stress and to improve the resilience of barley subjected to UV and drought

Research project within scientific and technological cooperation between Republic of Serbia and Republic of Slovenia, 2020-2022
Principal investigator: Dr Marija Vidovic, IMGGE
Participant from IMGGE: Dr Dragana Bosnic

Climate changes result in pronounced weather extremes including droughts and affect solar UV (ultraviolet) levels. Both high radiation levels and drought might disturb cellular redox balance and affect plant growth and development. Tolerance to solar UV radiation in plants is based on structural (cell-wall stiffening, biomineralisation, cuticle thickening) and metabolic (e.g. phenylpropanoids accumulation) traits of leaves, which attenuate UV radiation and enhance antioxidative capacity. UV radiation is now considered not only a plant stressor, but also an important evolutionary factor that has shaped plants growth and development.

During the last decade, the important role of silicon (Si) in mitigation of various stressors in different plant species was demonstrated. In spite of the high levels of Si in soils, future crops will likely require Si application to maintain maximum yields, since centuries of continuous crop harvesting have depleted soil pools of bioavailable Si. The interaction of Si accumulation and polyphenol biosynthesis, as well as the mechanism of Si involvement in antioxidative metabolism, related to UV and drought tolerance, is still debatable. 

The primary aim of the proposed project will be to get more insights into the role of Si in acclimation responses to UV radiation and drought in Si treated barley. Furthermore, we will investigate how Si accumulation and distribution correlates with phenolic and antioxidative metabolism under UV and drought. The final aim is to establish Si fertilization practice for increasing plant resilience to variable environmental conditions and provide higher yields. Providing more information about potential applications of Si to improve the resilience of the crops will have an impact on breeders and the fertilizer industry. The partner groups involved in this project  were selected based on their long expertise in studying the influence of UV radiation and drought in various plant species and mutual interests in investigating UV tolerance in crops and their antioxidative response of cell wall. The transfer of expertise between partner laboratories will be ensured by mutual training of the involved PhD and postdoc researchers.


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