Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Leaf and culm silicification of Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) developed on different soils from Pampean region, Argentina

Mariana Fernández Honaine A B C D , Natalia L. Borrelli A B C , Margarita Osterrieth A B and Luis del Rio A

A Instituto de Geología de Costas y del Cuaternario, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata-CIC, CC 722, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina.

B Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata-CONICET, CC 1260, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina.

C Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina (CONICET).

D Corresponding author. Email: fhonaine@mdp.edu.ar

Australian Journal of Botany - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT16154
Submitted: 21 July 2016  Accepted: 4 November 2016   Published online: 12 December 2016

Abstract

Amorphous silica accumulation in grasses is widely described in numerous species; however, work done in relation to the factors affecting this accumulation in the tissues and different type of cells, is still incipient. Here, we analysed a perennial tussock grass, Cortaderia selloana (Schult. & Schult.f.) Asch. & Graebn. (Pampas grass), a native and widely spread species from South America, which is also considered an invasive plant in many regions of the world. We analysed the relation between silicification process, soil type and environment, and anatomical features. Silicophytolith content and distribution in plants was analysed through calcination and staining techniques and SEM-EDAX analyses. Silicophytolith content was higher in leaves (2.48–5.54% DW) than in culms (0.29–0.43% DW) and values were similar to other tussock grasses. A relationship between the habit of a grass species and the potential maximum content of amorphous silica is suggested. Plants grown in soils from modified environments with high silica content (Anthrosol and Tecnosol) produced a higher content of amorphous silica. In leaves, the distribution of silicified cells was conditioned by leaf xeromorphic features. Soil Si content and environmental conditions (radiation, disturbance) are more relevant in silicification process than phenological factors. Within leaves, the accumulation of amorphous silica is conditioned by anatomy and transpiration.

Additional keywords: amorphous silica, biomineralisations, coastal soils, silicophytoliths, tussock grasses, xeromorphic anatomy.


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