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Keywords:

  • Bothriochloa laguroides;
  • bulliform cells;
  • Pampean grass;
  • phytoliths;
  • quarries;
  • soil silica content;
  • wetland

Abstract

Many studies relate silica content in plants with internal or external factors; however, few works analyse the effect of these factors on the silicification of different cell types. In this study, we examined the effect of leaf section and leaf position, and environmental conditions on the percentages of silicified epidermal cells of a native Pampean panicoid grass, Bothriochloa laguroides D. C. Pilger. Two different environmental situations were selected for the collection of plants: a natural wetland and a quartzite quarry, located in the southeast Buenos Aires province, Argentina. Clarification and staining methodologies were applied so as to study the distribution of silicified cells in different sections of leaves of the plants collected. Two and three-factor anovas were applied to the data. Between 13% and 19% of total cells of the adaxial epidermis of leaf blades were silicified. Typical silica short cells were the largest contributor to total silicified cells (53–98%), while the second largest contributor was bulliform cells (0–30%). Percentages of total silicified cells were higher in superior than in inferior leaves, while values from leaf sections varied. When collection sites were compared, plants growing in Los Padres pond, where the silica content in soils is higher, had the higher percentage of silicified cells. Among all types of cell, bulliform cells showed differences in the proportion of silicified cells between leaf position and section and collection site. These results show that silica availability in soils is an important factor that conditions silica accumulation and overlaps with the transpiration effect.