Silicon dynamics through the lens of soil-plant-animal interactions: perspectives for agricultural practices

Félix de Tombeur, Philippe Roux, Jean Thomas Cornelis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Silicon (Si) is increasingly recognized as a pivotal beneficial element for plants in ecology and agricultural sciences, but soil-plant Si cycling has been considered mostly through the prism of abiotic mineral weathering, whilst numerous biological processes have been overlooked. Leveraging ecological processes that impact soil-plant Si cycling in cropping systems might improve crop Si status, but this remains hypothetical to date. Scope: We aim to comprehensively compile information about biotic and abiotic processes driving soil-plant Si cycling, and translate their potential beneficial effects in agricultural practices. We emphasize the fundamental need to consider the effects of agricultural practices on Si mobility in soil-plant systems when striving towards sustainable agroecosystems. Conclusions: Regarding soil abiotic factors, degree of soil weathering, mineralogy, texture and pH are key predictors of soil Si dynamics, while soil aggregation processes deserve further investigation. The biological processes associated with mycorrhizal associations, silicate-solubilizing bacteria, and soil macrofauna enhance Si mobility in soil-plant systems, while the effect of root exudates is likely, but deserves further studies. Large herbivores strongly affect soil-plant Si mobility by increasing plant-derived Si turnover rates and redistribution, thereby making integrated crop-livestock systems a promising perspective to improve crop Si status. Recycling crop residues and implementing suitable cover crops promotes Si mobility in soil-plant systems by leveraging the relatively high solubility of plant-derived Si-bearing minerals. The soil-root-microorganism interactions facilitated by cereal-legume intercropping systems also contributes to the mobility of Si in the soil-plant continuum. The capacity of certain agricultural practices to increase Si mobility in soil-plant systems stresses the need to understand complex soil-plant-animal interactions when aiming to enhance Si-based plant stress resistance in agroecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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