Date of Award:

5-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Advisor/Chair:

Bruce Bugbee

Abstract

Silicon is a major component of most soils, and is found in significant concentration in plant tissue. Plants vary widely in the amount of silicon they take up, with some plants excluding it, and others using transporters to move the silicon from the soil into their roots. Early plant physiology studies were unable to determine conclusively whether silicon was essential to plant growth, but for some plants, most notably rice, it has proved to be important enough to justify fertilizing silicon deficient fields.

Researchers at the USU Crop Physiology Lab tested the effect of silicon on wheat growth and seed yield components. One study was grown in buckets of peat moss, with half the buckets being stressed with low water. The other study was grown in hydroponic tubs, with half the tubs being stressed with high levels of salt.

The results from these studies showed that silicon does increase wheat seed yield and vegetative mass. Wheat with low levels of silicon exhibited twisting of the awns and decreased roughness of leaf surfaces. Silicon also improved water efficiency of drought stressed plants, and affected the concentration of many micro- and macro-nutrients in leaf tissue.

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