Silicon-mediated enhancement of cadmium tolerance in maize (Zea mays L.) grown in cadmium contaminated soil

Yongchao Liang, Jonathan W C WONG, Long Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

362 Citations (Scopus)


Pot experiments were performed to study the alleviative effects of exogenous silicon (Si) on cadmium (Cd) phytotoxicity in maize grown in an acid soil experimentally contaminated with Cd. Five treatments were investigated in the first trial consisting of a control (neither Cd nor Si added), Cd added at 20 or 40 mg kg -1 Cd without or with Si added at 400 mg kg -1 Si. A following-up trial was conducted with almost the same treatments as in the first trial except that Si was incorporated at 50 mg kg -1 Si. The results showed that Cd treatment significantly decreased shoot and root dry weight, while addition of Si at both levels significantly enhanced biomass. Addition of Si at 400 mg kg -1 Si significantly increased soil pH but decreased soil Cd availability, thus reducing Cd concentration in the shoots and roots and total Cd in the shoots. Moreover, more Cd was found to be in the form of specific adsorbed or Fe-Mn oxides-bound fraction in the Si-amended soil. In contrast, soil pH, available Cd and Cd forms were unaffected by addition of Si at 50 mg kg -1 Si, but shoot Cd concentration in the Si-amended Cd treatments significantly decreased at both Cd levels used compared to the non-Si-amended Cd treatments. Total Cd in the shoots and roots was considerably and significantly higher in the Si-amended Cd treatments than in the non-Si-amended Cd treatments. The xylem sap significantly increased but Cd concentration in the xylem sap significantly decreased in the Si-amended Cd treatments compared with the non-Si-amended Cd treatments irrespective of Cd and Si levels used. The results suggest that Si-enhanced tolerance to Cd can be attributed not only to Cd immobilization caused by silicate-induced pH rise in the soils but also to Si-mediated detoxification of Cd in the plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-483
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cadmium
  • Cadmium uptake
  • Dry matter yield
  • Maize
  • Silicon


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