Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Short-term exposure to silicon rapidly enhances plant resistance to herbivory

Citation

Waterman, Jamie et al. (2021), Short-term exposure to silicon rapidly enhances plant resistance to herbivory, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.15dv41nxg

Abstract

Silicon (Si) can adversely affect insect herbivores, particularly in plants that evolved the ability to accumulate large quantities of Si. Very rapid herbivore-induced accumulation of Si has recently been demonstrated, but the level of protection against herbivory this affords plants remains unknown. Brachypodium distachyon, a model Si hyperaccumulating grass, was exposed to the chewing herbivore, Helicoverpa armigera, and grown under three conditions: supplied Si over 34 days (+Si), not supplied Si (-Si), or supplied Si once herbivory began (-Si→+Si). We evaluated the effectiveness of each Si treatment at reducing herbivore performance and measured Si-based defenses and phenolics (another form of defense often reduced by Si). Although Si concentrations remained lower, within 72 hr of exposure to Si, -Si→+Si plants were as resistant to herbivory as +Si plants. Both +Si and -Si→+Si treatments reduced herbivore damage and growth, and increased mandible wear compared to -Si. After 6 hr, herbivory increased filled Si cell density in -Si→+Si plants, and within 24 hr, -Si→+Si plants reached similar filled Si cell densities to +Si plants, although decreased phenolics only occurred in +Si plants. We demonstrate that plants with short-term Si exposure can rapidly accumulate Si-based anti-herbivore defenses as effectively as plants with long-term exposure.

Funding

Australian Research Council, Award: FT170100342