Why do plants silicify?

Félix de Tombeur (Lead / Corresponding author), John A. Raven, Aurèle Toussaint, Hans Lambers, Julia Cooke, Sue E. Hartley, Scott N. Johnson, Sylvain Coq, Ofir Katz, Jörg Schaller, Cyrille Violle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Nov 2022


  • costs
  • ecosystem functioning
  • fitness
  • functional trait
  • grassland
  • silicification


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