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Visualising Silicon in Plants: Histochemistry, Silica Sculptures and Elemental Imaging.

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Abstract

Silicon is a non-essential element for plants and is available in biota as silicic acid. Its presence has been associated with a general improvement of plant vigour and response to exogenous stresses. Plants accumulate silicon in their tissues as amorphous silica and cell walls are preferential sites. While several papers have been published on the mitigatory effects that silicon has on plants under stress, there has been less research on imaging silicon in plant tissues. Imaging offers important complementary results to molecular data, since it provides spatial information. Herein, the focus is on histochemistry coupled to optical microscopy, fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy of microwave acid extracted plant silica, techniques based on particle-induced X-ray emission, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and mass spectrometry imaging (NanoSIMS). Sample preparation procedures will not be discussed in detail, as several reviews have already treated this subject extensively. We focus instead on the information that each technique provides by offering, for each imaging approach, examples from both silicifiers (giant horsetail and rice) and non-accumulators (Cannabis sativa L.).

Acceptance Date Apr 22, 2020
Publication Date Apr 24, 2020
Journal Cells
Publisher MDPI
DOI https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9041066
Keywords biogenic silica; microscopy; PDMPO; SEM; microwave acid digestion; elemental imaging
Publisher URL https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/9/4/1066

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