Phytolith occluded carbon and silica variability in wheat cultivars

Document Type


Publication details

Parr, JF & Sullivan, LA 2011, 'Phytolith occluded carbon and silica variability in wheat cultivars', Plant and Soil, vol. 342, no. 1/2, pp. 165-171.

Publisher version available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-010-0680-z

Peer Reviewed



Phytolith Occluded Carbon (PhytOC) has recently been demonstrated to be an important long-term terrestrial carbon fraction. The aim of this study was to examine the rates of silica accumulation and carbon bio-sequestered within the silica phytoliths of the leaf and stem material of wheat (Triticum sp.) cultivars. The phytolith content of 53 wheat cultivars sourced from 25 countries around the world and grown on a single trial site was first isolated and the PhytOC content then determined. The data shows that the phytolith occluded carbon content of the wheat cultivars ranged from 0.06% to 0.60% of dry leaf and stem biomass: a range of 1,000%. The data also demonstrates that it is the efficiency by which carbon is encapsulated within silica rather than the quantity of silica accumulated by the plant that is the most important factor in determining the relative PhytOC yields. The potential phytolith carbon bio-sequestration rates in the leaf and stem components of these wheat cultivars ranged up to 0.246 t-e-CO2 ha−1y−1. These phytolith carbon bio-sequestration rates indicate a substantial potential (~50 million t-e-CO2 y−1) exists for increasing the rate of secure carbon bio-sequestration in wheat crops using existing cultivars.