Silicon-mediated enhancement of herbivore resistance in agricultural crops

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,993.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Grant Recipient: Penn State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Gary Felton
Penn State University
Silicon (Si) is a beneficial mineral that enhances plant protection against abiotic and biotic stresses, including insect herbivores. Si increases mechanical and biochemical defenses in a variety of plant species. However, the use of Si in agriculture remains poorly adopted despite its widely documented benefits in plant health. In this study, we tested the effect of Si supplementation on the induction of plant resistance against a chewing herbivore in crops with differential ability to accumulate this element. Our model system comprised the generalist herbivore fall armyworm (FAW) Spodoptera frugiperda and three economically important plant species with differential ability to uptake silicon: tomato (non-Si accumulator), soybean, and maize (Si-accumulators). We investigated the effects of Si supply and insect herbivory on the induction of physical and biochemical plant defenses, and herbivore growth using potted plants in greenhouse conditions. Herbivory and Si supply increased peroxidase (POX) activity and trichome density in tomato, and the concentration of phenolics in soybean. Si supplementation increased leaf Si concentration in all plants. Previous herbivory affected FAW larval weight gain in all plants tested, and the Si treatment further reduced weight gain of larvae fed on Si accumulator plants. Notably, our results strongly suggest that non-glandular trichomes are important reservoirs of Si in maize and may increase plant resistance to chewing herbivores. We conclude that Si offers transient resistance to FAW in soybean, and a more lasting resistance in maize. Si supply is a promising strategy in management programs of chewing herbivores in Si-accumulator plants.
Peer-reviewed Journal Article
Flor Acevedo, Penn State University
Michelle Peiffer, Penn State University
Swayamjit Ray, Penn State University
Ching-Wen Tan, Penn State University
Gary Felton, Penn State University
Ordering info:
Flor E Acevedo
Penn State University
662 N. Cementery Road
North East, PA 16428
This product is associated with the project "Boosting plant defenses using silicon fertilization"
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.