Dynamic Modeling of Silicon Bioavailability, Uptake, Transport, and Accumulation: Applicability in Improving the Nutritional Quality of Tomato

Front Plant Sci. 2018 May 17;9:647. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00647. eCollection 2018.


Silicon is an essential nutrient for humans, additionally is beneficial for terrestrial plants. In plants Si enhances tolerance to different types of stress; in humans, it improves the metabolism and increases the strength of skeletal and connective tissues as well as of the immune system. Most of the Si intake of humans come from edible plants creating a double benefit: first, because the absorption of Si increases the antioxidants and other phytochemicals in plants, thereby increasing its functional value, and second because the higher concentration of Si in plants increases intake in human consumers. Therefore, it is desirable to raise the availability of Si in the human diet through the agronomic management of Si accumulator species, such as corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, and beans. But also in such species as tomatoes, carrots, and other vegetables, whose per capita consumption has increased. However, there are few systematized recommendations for the application and management of Si fertilizers based on the physicochemical factors that determine their availability, absorption, transport, and deposition in cells and tissues. This study presents updated information about edaphic and plant factors, which determine the absorption, transport, and deposition rates in edible organs. The information was integrated into an estimated dynamic model that approximates the processes previously mentioned in a model that represents a tomato crop in soil and soilless conditions. In the model, on the other hand, was integrated the available information about key environmental factors related to Si absorption and mobilization, such as the temperature, pH, and soil organic matter. The output data of the model were compared against information collected in the literature, finding an adequate adjustment. The use of the model for educational or technical purposes, including the possibility of extending it to other horticultural crops, can increase the understanding of the agronomic management of Si in plants.

Keywords: mathematical models; nutritional quality; silicates; silicon and health; stress tolerance.