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Physiol Plant. 2002 May;115(1):87-92.

Silicification in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) cultivars with different drought tolerance.

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Department of Plant Physiology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Mlynská dolina B-2, SK-842 15 Bratislava, Slovak Republic Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 14, SK-842 23 Bratislava, Slovak Republic Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, 1390 Hamasaka, Tottori 680-001, Japan.


Sorghum belongs to a group of economically important, silicon accumulating plants. X-ray microanalysis coupled with environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) of fresh root endodermal and leaf epidermal samples confirms histological and cultivar specificity of silicification. In sorghum roots, silicon is accumulated mostly in endodermal cells. Specialized silica aggregates are formed predominantly in a single row in the form of wall outgrowths on the inner tangential endodermal walls. The density of silica aggregates per square mm of inner tangential endodermal cell wall is around 2700 and there is no significant difference in the cultivars with different content of silicon in roots. In the leaf epidermis, silicon deposits were present in the outer walls of all cells, with the highest concentration in specialized idioblasts termed 'silica cells'. These cells are dumb-bell shaped in sorghum. In both the root endodermis and leaf epidermis, silicification was higher in a drought tolerant cultivar Gadambalia compared with drought sensitive cultivar Tabat. Silicon content per dry mass was higher in leaves than in roots in both cultivars. The values for cv. Gadambalia in roots and leaves are 3.5 and 4.1% Si, respectively, and for cv. Tabat 2.2 and 3.3%. However, based on X-ray microanalysis the amount of Si deposited in endodermal cell walls in drought tolerant cultivar (unlike the drought susceptible cultivar) is higher than that deposited in the leaf epidermis. The high root endodermal silicification might be related to a higher drought resistance.

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