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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01571

Spectroscopic discrimination of sorghum silica phytoliths Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

  • 1Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
  • 2Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Germany
  • 3Bar-Ilan University, Israel
  • 4The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Grasses accumulate silicon in the form of silicic acid, which is precipitated as amorphous silica in microscopic particles termed phytoliths. These particles comprise a variety of morphologies according to the cell type in which the silica was deposited. Despite the evident morphological differences, phytolith chemistry has mostly been analysed in bulk samples, neglecting differences between the varied types formed in the same species. In this work we extracted leaf phytoliths from mature plants of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench. Using solid state NMR and thermogravimetric analysis we show that the extraction methods alter greatly the silica molecular structure, its condensation degree and the trapped organic matter. Measurements of individual phytoliths by Raman and synchrotron FTIR microspectroscopies in combination with multivariate analysis separated bilobate silica cells from prickles and long cells, based on the silica molecular structures and the fraction and composition of occluded organic matter. The variations in structure and composition of sorghum phytoliths suggest that the biological pathways leading to silica deposition vary between these cell types.

Keywords: Phytoliths, Biosilicification, Raman, Sorghum, Solid state NMR, Synchrotron FTIR

Received: 17 Apr 2019; Accepted: 11 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Rodriguez Zancajo, Diehn, Filiba, Goobes, Kneipp and Elbaum. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Rivka Elbaum, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel, rivka.elbaum@mail.huji.ac.il