Under salt stress, plants suffer from potassium (K) deficiency caused by excess salts in growth substrate. Silicon (Si) can promote K status in many plant species under salt stress, however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we assessed the effects of Si on K homeostasis in rice under salt stress and investigated the mechanisms behind using two low-Si rice mutants (lsi1 and lsi2) and their wild types (WTs). After five days’ treatment with Si, plant growth was improved and salt stress-induced K deficiency was alleviated in WTs but not in mutants. Simultaneously, Si significantly enhanced K accumulation content, K uptake index and shoot K distribution rate in WTs but not in mutants. Besides, Si enhanced K concentration in xylem sap in WTs but not in mutants. Scanning ion-selected electrode technique (SIET) analysis showed net K influx rate was raised by Si addition under salt stress in WTs but not in mutants. Moreover, Si up-regulated the expression of genes responsible for K uptake (OsAKT1 and OsHAK1) and xylem loading (OsSKOR) in WTs but not in mutants. Overall, our results strongly indicate that Si can improve K uptake and translocation by up-regulating the expression of relevant genes, thereby promoting K status and alleviating salt stress in rice.
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