A review on the beneficial role of silicon against salinity in non-accumulator crops: Tomato as a model
J. Hoffmann, R. Berni, J.-F. Hausman, and G. Guerriero
Biomolecules, vol. 10, no. 9, art. no. 1284, p. 1-15, 2020
Salinity is an abiotic stress that affects agriculture by severely impacting crop growth and, consequently, final yield. Considering that sea levels rise at an alarming rate of >3 mm per year, it is clear that salt stress constitutes a top-ranking threat to agriculture. Among the economically important crops that are sensitive to high salinity is tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), a cultivar that is more affected by salt stress than its wild counterparts. A strong body of evidence in the literature has proven the beneficial role of the quasi-essential metalloid silicon (Si), which increases the vigor and protects plants against (a)biotic stresses. This protection is realized by precipitating in the cell walls as opaline silica that constitutes a mechanical barrier to the entry of phytopathogens. With respect to Si accumulation, tomato is classified as a non-accumulator (an excluder), similarly to other members of the nightshade family, such as tobacco. Despite the low capacity of accumulating Si, when supplied to tomato plants, the metalloid improves growth under (a)biotic stress conditions, e.g., by enhancing the yield of fruits or by improving vegetative growth through the modulation of physiological parameters. In light of the benefits of Si in crop protection, the available literature data on the effects of this metalloid in mitigating salt stress in tomato are reviewed with a perspective on its use as a biostimulant, boosting the production of fruits as well as their post-harvest stability.