New outcomes on how silicon enables the cultivation of Panicum maximum in soil with water restriction
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Climate change increases the occurrence of droughts, decreasing the production of tropical forages through the induction of physiological stress. Si is expected to broaden the limit from physiological stress of forages grown under water restriction, which may come from an improvement in the stoichiometric homeostasis of Si with N and C, favoring physiological aspects. This study assessed whether Si supply via fertigation improves physiological aspects and the water content in the plant by means of an antioxidant defense system and changes in the C:N:Si stoichiometry during the regrowth of two cultivars of Panicum maximum grown under two soil water regimes (70 and 40% of the soil’s water retention capacity). The forages studied are sensitive to water deficit without silicon supply. The application of Si via fertigation attenuated the water deficit, favoring plant growth by stabilizing the stoichiometric homeostasis C:N and C:Si, which are responsible for increasing the plant capacity of converting accumulated C in dry mass, favoring the water content of the plant tissue and the photosynthetic efficiency. This study highlights the importance of the physiological function of Si, and effects on the stoichiometry of C and N, which are neglected in most research on forages grown under water restriction.