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Keywords:

  • Coffea arabica L;
  • mineral nutrition;
  • rust;
  • scanning electron microscopy;
  • silicon

Abstract

Coffee leaf rust, caused by Hemileia vastatrix, is the most devastating disease of coffee. Since limited information is available in the literature on silicon (Si) affecting plant diseases in coffee, this study was designed to investigate foliar application of potassium silicate (PS), a source of soluble (Si), on infection process of coffee leaf rust at the microscopic level. The foliar Si concentration for plants sprayed with water and PS has no significant difference (0.24 and 0.30 dag kg−1, respectively). X-ray microanalysis indicated that the deposition of Si on the leaves of the plants that were sprayed with PS was greater in comparison to the leaf samples from the plants sprayed with water. Rust severity on leaves of plants sprayed with water or sprayed with PS reached 44% and 32%, respectively, at 36 days after inoculation (dai). Plates of polymerised PS were observed on the leaf surfaces of the plants sprayed with the product, in contrast to its absence on the leaf surfaces of plants sprayed with water. At 36 dai, a greater number of uredia were observed on the leaf surfaces of plants sprayed with water in comparison to the leaf surfaces of plants sprayed with PS. On fractured leaf tissues that were sprayed with PS, less fungal colonisation was observed in comparison to the leaves of plants sprayed with water. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that the effect of foliar-applied Si on the control of the coffee leaf rust development may be attributed to the physical role of the polymerised PS, its osmotic effect against urediniospores germination, or both.