Silicon deposition in the root reduces sodium uptake in rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings by reducing bypass flow


T. J. Flowers. Fax: +44 1273 678433; e-mail:


Sodium chloride reduces the growth of rice seedlings, which accumulate excessive concentrations of sodium and chloride ions in their leaves. In this paper, we describe how silicon decreases transpirational bypass flow and ion concentrations in the xylem sap in rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings growing under NaCl stress. Salt (50 mM NaCl) reduced the growth of shoots and roots: adding silicate (3 mM) to the saline culture solution improved the growth of the shoots, but not roots. The improvement of shoot growth in the presence of silicate was correlated with reduced sodium concentration in the shoot. The net transport rate of Na from the root to shoot (expressed per unit of root mass) was also decreased by added silicate. There was, however, no effect of silicate on the net transport of potassium. Furthermore, in salt-stressed plants, silicate did not decrease the transpiration, and even increased it in seedlings pre-treated with silicate for 7 d prior to salt treatment, indicating that the reduction of sodium uptake by silicate was not simply through a reduction in volume flow from root to shoot. Experiments using trisodium-8-hydroxy-1,3,6-pyrenetrisulphonic acid (PTS), an apoplastic tracer, showed that silicate dramatically decreased transpirational bypass flow in rice (from about 4.2 to 0.8%), while the apparent sodium concentration in the xylem, which was estimated indirectly from the flux data, decreased from 6.2 to 2.8 mM. Direct measurements of the concentration of sodium in xylem sap sampled using Philaenus spumarius confirmed that the apparent reduction was not a consequence of sodium recycling. X-ray microanalysis showed that silicon was deposited in the outer part of the root and in the endodermis, being more obvious in the latter than in the former. The results suggest that silicon deposition in the exodermis and endodermis reduced sodium uptake in rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings under NaCl stress through a reduction in apoplastic transport across the root.