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Ozlem Altuntas, H. Yildiz Dasgan and Yelderem Akhoundnejad

Salt stress is a major problem worldwide because it decreases yields of many important agricultural crops. Silicon is the second-most abundant element in soil and has numerous beneficial effects on plants, particularly in alleviating stress-related impacts. Pepper is an important crop in the Mediterranean region, but pepper varieties differ in their salinity tolerances. The objective of this research was to test the ability of silicon to mitigate effects of salt stress in both salt-sensitive and salt-tolerant cultivars. Salt damage was evaluated by measuring biomass, photosynthetic-related variables, leaf water potential, and membrane damage. We found that the addition of silicon solute to a growth medium was highly effective in improving plant growth by enhancing photosynthesis, stomatal conductance (g S), leaf water status, and membrane stability, which in turn led to higher biomass production in salt-stressed pepper plants, especially in a salt-sensitive cultivar. From an agronomic viewpoint, application of Si may provide economically relevant productivity improvements for salt-sensitive pepper genotypes grown under moderate salinity conditions and for salt-tolerant genotype grown under higher-salinity conditions.