Silicon affects nutrient content and ratios of wetland plants
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
, p. 479-485
University of Antwerp
Purpose The main objective of this study is to enhance our knowledge about the interplay between the plant Si content and the plant nutrient content as well as the nutrient stoichiometry for a broad range of submerged and emergent wetland plants. Methods We investigated the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and silicon content of 16 species (10 submerged and 6 emergent) along a transect within the Biebrza river (Poland) at 10 locations for the years 2006 and 2007. In addition, the relationships between silicon and carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus content as well as the calculated nutrient ratios (C/N, C/P and N/P) were analyzed. Results We found evidence for a significant relation of Si to major nutrients carbon and nitrogen (negative correlation) and phosphorus (positive correlation) within wetland plants. Our results show that especially submerged plants are able to substitute carbon compounds in a significant share by silicon compounds. Nitrogen however is partially substituted by Si for emergent plants. This change in plant nutrient content in turn alters the nutrient stoichiometry of C : N : P. Conclusion Our data is the first showing a possible important effect of plant Si content on plant nutrition and nutrient cycling in wetlands. Plant Si has to be considered in plant ecology, physiology and biogeochemistry of wetland plants, because of its effects on the plant nutrient state. Furthermore, Si may also possibly affect the carbon and nutrient turnover via altered plant nutrient content and subsequently via litter decomposition.