Influence of Silicon on Biocontrol Strategies to Manage Biotic Stress for Crop Protection, Performance, and Improvement

Plants (Basel). 2021 Oct 12;10(10):2163. doi: 10.3390/plants10102163.


Silicon (Si) has never been acknowledged as a vital nutrient though it confers a crucial role in a variety of plants. Si may usually be expressed more clearly in Si-accumulating plants subjected to biotic stress. It safeguards several plant species from disease. It is considered as a common element in the lithosphere of up to 30% of soils, with most minerals and rocks containing silicon, and is classified as a "significant non-essential" element for plants. Plant roots absorb Si, which is subsequently transferred to the aboveground parts through transpiration stream. The soluble Si in cytosol activates metabolic processes that create jasmonic acid and herbivore-induced organic compounds in plants to extend their defense against biotic stressors. The soluble Si in the plant tissues also attracts natural predators and parasitoids during pest infestation to boost biological control, and it acts as a natural insect repellent. However, so far scientists, policymakers, and farmers have paid little attention to its usage as a pesticide. The recent developments in the era of genomics and metabolomics have opened a new window of knowledge in designing molecular strategies integrated with the role of Si in stress mitigation in plants. Accordingly, the present review summarizes the current status of Si-mediated plant defense against insect, fungal, and bacterial attacks. It was noted that the Si-application quenches biotic stress on a long-term basis, which could be beneficial for ecologically integrated strategy instead of using pesticides in the near future for crop improvement and to enhance productivity.

Keywords: biotic stress; herbivory; pathogens; physio-biochemical/molecular strategies; plants; silicon.

Publication types

  • Review