Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Nutrient-mediated silica uptake from agricultural runoff in invasive floating macrophytes: implications for biological control.

Abstract

Silica (Si) plays a significant role in alleviating the effects of biotic and abiotic stressors in many plants, especially in an agricultural context. With increased use of Si-based fertilisers, understanding plant responses to the addition of Si to their environment, particularly aquatic environments, is important. We investigated how two invasive macrophytes, Eichhornia crassipes and Pistia stratiotes, responded to different nutrient and Si concentrations, in the presence and absence of herbivory. Both species incorporated Si into their foliage, but uptake of Si did not increase under high nutrient availability but rather decreased, especially in P. stratiotes. Plant quality (i.e. C:N) for both weed species was affected more by nutrient concentrations than Si content, and the addition of Si had a negative effect on plant growth. Eichhornia crassipes increased daughter plant production under high Si conditions, while P. stratiotes plants showed no reproductive response to increased Si except in low nutrient conditions where reproduction was reduced. The addition of Si resulted in increased biomass of E. crassipes, while P. stratiotes was unaffected. These results highlight that runoff of Si from fertiliser alter aquatic plant-insect interactions, which has consequences for biological control.