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J Plant Physiol. 2011 Oct 15;168(15):1866-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Silicon delays Tobacco ringspot virus systemic symptoms in Nicotiana tabacum.

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Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Toledo, 2801 West BancroftStreet, Toledo, OH 43606, United States.


Soluble silicon (Si) provides protection to plants against a variety of abiotic and biotic stress. However, the effects of Si on viral infections are largely unknown. To investigate the role of Si in viral infections, hydroponic studies were conducted in Nicotiana tabacum with two pathogens: Tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV) and Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Plants grown in elevated Si showed a delay in TRSV systemic symptom formation and a reduction in symptomatic leaf area, compared to the non-supplemented controls. TRSV-infected plants showed significantly higher levels of foliar Si compared to mock-inoculated plants. However, the Si effect appeared to be virus-specific, since the element did not alter TMV symptoms nor did infection by this virus alter foliar Si levels. Hence, increased foliar Si levels appear to correlate with Si-modulated protection against viral infection. This is all the more intriguing since N. tabacum is classified as a low Si accumulator.

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