Plant root responses to three abundant soil minerals: Silicon, aluminum and iron

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160 Citations (Scopus)


Silicon (Si), aluminum (Al), and iron (Fe) are the three most abundant minerals in soil; however, their effects on plants differ because they are beneficial, toxic, and essential to plant growth, respectively. High accumulation of silicon in the shoots helps some plants to overcome a range of biotic and abiotic stresses. However, plants vary in their ability to take up Si from the soil and load it into the xylem and so the accumulation of silicon varies greatly between plant species. Aluminum toxicity is characterized by a rapid inhibition of root elongation but some species and even genotypes within species can tolerate Al toxicity better than others. While the mechanisms controlling this tolerance in most of the more resistant species are poorly understood, some plants are able to detoxify Al externally and/or internally by complexation with ligands or by pH changes in the rhizosphere. Iron is taken up from the soil by two efficient mechanisms called Strategy I and Strategy II, which operate in distinct phylogenic groups. Strategy I plants increase soil Fe solubility by releasing protons and reductants/chelators, such as organic acids and phenolics, into the rhizosphere, white Strategy II plants are characterized by the secretion of ferric chelating substances (phytosiderophores) coupled with a specific Fe3+:chelate uptake system. In this review, the molecular mechanisms underlying root response to Si, Al, and Fe are described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Chelation
  • Metal detoxification
  • Nutrient acquisition
  • Transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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