Silicon-Induced Mitigation of NaCl Stress in Barley

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plants Article Silicon-Induced Mitigation of NaCl Stress in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), Associated with Enhanced Enzymatic and Non-Enzymatic Antioxidant Activities Muhammad Salim Akhter 1 , Sibgha Noreen 1,*, Ume Ummara 2, Muhammad Aqeel 3, Nawishta Saleem 1, Muhammad Mahboob Ahmed 4 , Seema Mahmood 1, Habib-ur-Rehman Athar 1 , Mohammed Nasser Alyemeni 5, Prashant Kaushik 6 and Parvaiz Ahmad 7,* 1 2 3 4 5 6 Abstract: Salt stress obstructs plant’s growth by affecting metabolic processes, ion homeostasis and over-production of reactive oxygen species. In this regard silicon (Si) has been known to augment a plant’s antioxidant defense system to combat adverse effects of salinity stress. In order to quantify the Si-mediated salinity tolerance, we studied the role of Si (200 ppm) applied through rooting media on antioxidant battery system of barley genotypes; B-10008 (salt-tolerant) and B-14011 (salt-sensitive) subjected to salt stress (200 mM NaCl). A significant decline in the accumulation of shoot (35–74%) and root (30–85%) biomass was observed under salinity stress, while Si application through rooting media enhancing biomass accumulation of shoots (33–49%) and root (32–37%) under salinity stress. The over-accumulation reactive oxygen species i.e., hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an inevitable process resulting into lipid peroxidation, which was evident by enhanced malondialdehyde levels (13–67%) under salinity stress. These events activated a defense system, which was marked by higher levels of total soluble proteins and uplifted activities of antioxidants enzymatic (SOD, POD, CAT, GR and APX) and non-enzymatic (α-tocopherol, total phenolics, AsA, total glutathione, GSH, GSSG and proline) in roots and leaves under salinity stress. The Si application through rooting media further strengthened the salt stressed barley plant’s defense system by up-regulating the activities of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant in order to mitigate excessive H2O2 efficiently. The results revealed that although salt-tolerant genotype (B-10008) was best adopted to tolerate salt stress, comparably the response of salt-sensitive genotype (B-14011) was more prominent (accumulation of antioxidant) after application of Si through rooting media under salinity stress. Keywords: abiotic stress tolerance; antioxidant defense; Hordeum vulgare; lipid peroxidation; proline; PCA-biplot 1. Introduction Soil salinity is a serious global issue confining agricultural production and creating great economic loss. It has been estimated that globally more than 33% agricultural and 20% of total irrigated land is affected by high salinity, which is escalating at the rate of 10% per annum [1]. Meanwhile, in Pakistan 4.5 million hectares of arable land is being affected only by salinity and causing severe damage to crop as well as soil health [2]. Saline soils Institute of Botany, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan 60800, Pakistan Department of Botany, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan Campus, Rahim Yar Khan 64200, Pakistan State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, School of Life Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China Institute of Chemical Science, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan 60800, Pakistan Botany and Microbiology Department, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia Instituto de Conservación y Mejora de la Agrodiversidad Valenciana, Universitat Politècnica de València, 46022 Valencia, Spain Department of Botany, GDC, Pulwama 192301, India 7 * Correspondence: sibgha.noreen@bzu.edu.pk (S.N.); parvaizbot@yahoo.com (P.A.) Citation: Akhter, M.S.; Noreen, S.; Ummara, U.; Aqeel, M.; Saleem, N.; Ahmed, M.M.; Mahmood, S.; Athar, H.-u.-R.; Alyemeni, M.N.; Kaushik, P.; et al. Silicon-Induced Mitigation of NaCl Stress in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), Associated with Enhanced Enzymatic and Non-Enzymatic Antioxidant Activities. Plants 2022, 11,2379. https://doi.org/10.3390/ plants11182379 Academic Editor: Petronia Carillo Received: 6 August 2022 Accepted: 26 August 2022 Published: 12 September 2022 Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affil- iations. Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Plants 2022, 11, 2379. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11182379 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/plants

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