Rough and tough. How does silicic acid protect horsetail from fungal infection?

Gea Guerriero, Chinnoi Law, Ian Stokes, Katie Moore, Christopher Exley

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    Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) plants grew healthily for 10 weeks under both Si-deficient and Si-replete conditions. After 10 weeks, plants grown under Si-deficient conditions succumbed to fungal infection. We have used NanoSIMS and fluorescence microscopy to investigate silica deposition in the tissues of these plants. Horsetail grown under Si-deficient conditions did not deposit identifiable amounts of silica in their tissues. Plants grown under Si-replete conditions accumulated silica throughout their tissues and especially in the epidermis of the outer side of the leaf and the furrow region of the stem where it was continuous and often, as a double layer suggestive of a barrier function. We have previously shown, both in vivo (in horsetail and thale cress) and in vitro (using an undersaturated solution of Si(OH)4), that callose is a “catalyst” of plant silica deposition. Here we support this finding by comparing the deposition of silica to that of callose and by showing that they are co-localized. We propose the existence of a synergistic mechanical protection by callose and silica against pathogens in horsetail, whereby the induction of callose synthesis and deposition is the first, biochemical line of defence and callose-induced precipitation of silica is the second, adventitious mechanical barrier
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
    Early online date31 Jan 2018
    Publication statusPublished - May 2018


    • Biogenic silica
    • NanoSIMS
    • Silicic acid
    • Callose
    • Horsetail
    • Fungal infection


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