Why do plants silicify?

de Tombeur, Felix; Raven, John A.; Toussaint, Aurèle; Lambers, Hans; Cooke, Julia; Hartley, Sue E.; Johnson, Scott N.; Coq, Sylvain; Katz, Ofir; Schaller, Jörg and Voille, Cyrille (2023). Why do plants silicify? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 38(3) pp. 275–288.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2022.11.002


Despite seminal papers that stress the significance of silicon (Si) in plant biology and ecology, most studies focus on manipulations of Si supply and mitigation of stresses. The ecological significance of Si varies with different levels of biological organization, and remains hard to capture. We show that the costs of Si accumulation are greater than is currently acknowledged, and discuss potential links between Si and fitness components (growth, survival, reproduction), environment, and ecosystem functioning. We suggest that Si is more important in trait-based ecology than is currently recognized. Si potentially plays a significant role in many aspects of plant ecology, but knowledge gaps prevent us from understanding its possible contribution to the success of some clades and the expansion of specific biomes.

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