Leaf silicon content in banana (Musa spp.) reveals the weathering stage of volcanic ash soils in Guadeloupe

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Several plant species accumulate silicon, which is taken up by roots in soil solution. The Si concentration in soil solution can be governed by silicate dissolution and formation, and thus soil constitution. Here, we study the Si leaf content of mature banana plants (Musa acuminata cv Grande Naine) cropped on soils derived from andesitic ash in Guadeloupe through standard foliar analysis. The soils strongly differ in weathering stage and total Si content. The most desilicated soils (Andosol–Nitisol–Ferralsol) occur in the wettest areas, on the Eastern slopes (Es) of the volcano exposed to rain bearing winds. Least weathered soils (Andosol–Cambisol) occur on Western slopes (Ws). The average leaf Si concentration ranges from 2.7 to 3.9 g kg−1 for bananas cropped in Es soils, and from 7.7 to 9.6 g kg−1 in Ws soils. The leaf Si concentrations are lowest for the Es gibbsite-rich Andosols and Ferralsols. The leaf Si concentration is positively correlated with soil CaCl2-extractable Si content, soil Si content and total reserve in weatherable minerals. The silicon content of banana leaves thus reveals the weathering stage of volcanic ash soils in Guadeloupe.

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