Outstanding Questions on the Beneficial Role of Silicon in Crop Plants

S. M. Shivaraj, Rushil Mandlik, Javaid Akhter Bhat, Gaurav Raturi, Rivka Elbaum, Lux Alexander, Durgesh Kumar Tripathi, Rupesh Deshmukh, Humira Sonah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Silicon (Si) is widely accepted as a beneficial element for plants. Despite the substantial progress made in understanding Si transport mechanisms and modes of action in plants, several questions remain unanswered. In this review, we discuss such outstanding questions and issues commonly encountered by biologists studying the role of Si in plants in relation to Si bioavailability. In recent years, advances in our understanding of the role of Si-solubilizing bacteria and the efficacy of Si nanoparticles have been made. However, there are many unknown aspects associated with structural and functional features of Si transporters, Si loading into the xylem, and the role of specialized cells like silica cells and compounds preventing Si polymerization in plant tissues. In addition, despite several 1,000 reports showing the positive effects of Si in high as well as low Si-accumulating plant species, the exact roles of Si at the molecular level are yet to be understood. Some evidence suggests that Si regulates hormonal pathways and nutrient uptake, thereby explaining various observed benefits of Si uptake. However, how Si modulates hormonal pathways or improves nutrient uptake remains to be explained. Finally, we summarize the knowledge gaps that will provide a roadmap for further research on plant silicon biology, leading to an exploration of the benefits of Si uptake to enhance crop production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-18
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Membrane transport
  • Nanoparticle
  • Plant resilience
  • Silicon
  • Silicon polymerization
  • Xylem loading
  • Membrane Transport Proteins/metabolism
  • Silicon/metabolism
  • Crops, Agricultural/metabolism
  • Biological Transport/drug effects
  • Biological Availability

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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