Session: #256

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

IMPR – Phytoliths Biogeochemistry - From Phytoliths Formation and Role in Modern Plants to New Proxies for Archaeology and Palaeoecology
Biosilicification in plants is a complex process under genetic and environmental control. Suggested functions of phytoliths are structural support, protection against grazing and pathogens, and regulation and storage of minerals and heavy metals. For phytoliths to be deposited, plants need to take up silicon from their environment. Some plants produce many phytoliths, while others produce hardly any. Also the degree of taxonomic identification of phytoliths to plant groups, or even plant parts, is diverse. Concerning phytolith formation, there are still questions to answer, for example, the variation of phytolith formation within individual species, quantitative aspects and chemical aspects. An additional challenge is how we can turn aspects of phytolith biogeochemistry into proxies to use in environmental and archaeological research, e.g. by using chemical elements within phytolith structure (e.g. Carbon, Calcium, Aluminium, Nitrogen) for isotope analyses or for radiocarbon dating. Furthermore, this session also deals with those chemical aspects of both phytoliths and pedological processes that affect phytolith preservation and distribution. Proper understanding of taphonomy is key to the interpretation of the original plant assemblages.

This session aims to discuss new methodological developments in phytolith formation and quantification while studying phytoliths in the fields of plant systematics, evolution, physiology and biochemistry. The session welcomes contributions that address questions such as, but not limited to: where in the plants are phytoliths formed? What types of cells or other structures silicify, and how does phytolith formation vary within plants and within species? Can we increase the use of chemical aspects of phytoliths as a proxy in archaeological studies, including dating Carbon in phytoliths? How can isotope studies be applied to phytolith records? Which compounds and elements other than silica are included in phytoliths?

This session is part of the 12th International Meeting for Phytolith Research, the official conference of the International Phytolith Society.
phytolith formation, biochemistry, isotopes, radiocarbon dating
Session associated with MERC:
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Session associated with other:
IPS- International Phytolith Society 12th IMPR


Main organiser:
Stefan Dreibrodt (Germany) 1
Marta Dal Corso (Italy) 1
Alexandre Chevalier (Belgium) 2
1. Kiel University
2. Royal Institute of Natural Sciences (Belgium)