Identification, distribution, and quantification of biominerals in a deciduous forest


Biomineralization is a common process in most vascular plants, but poorly investigated for trees. Although the presence of calcium oxalate and silica accumulation has been reported for some tree species, the chemical composition, abundance, and quantification of biominerals remain poorly documented. However, biominerals may play important physiological and structural roles in trees, especially in forest ecosystems, which are characterized by nutrient-­poor soils. In this context, our study aimed at investigating the morphology, distribution, and relative abundance of biominerals in the different vegetative compartments (foliage, branch, trunk, and root) of Fagus sylvatica L. and Acer pseudoplatanus L. using a combination of scanning electron microscopy and tomography analyses. Biomineral crystallochemistry was assessed by X-­ray diffraction and energy-­dispersive X-­ray analyses, while calcium, silicon, and oxalic acid were quantified in the compartments and at the forest scale. Our analyses revealed that biominerals occurred as crystals or coating layers mostly in bark and leaves and were identified as opal, whewellite, and complex biominerals. In both tree species, opal was mostly found in the external tissues of trunk, branch, and leaves, but also in the roots of beech. In the stand, opal represents around 170 kg/ha. Whewellite was found to suit to conductive tissues (i.e., axial phloem parenchyma, vascular bundles, vessel element) in all investigated compartments of the two tree species. The shape of whewellite was prismatic and druses in beech, and almost all described shapes were seen in sycamore maple. Notably, the amount of whewellite was strongly correlated with the total calcium in all investigated compartments whatever the tree species is, suggesting a biologic control of whewellite precipitation. The amount of whewellite in the aboveground biomass of Montiers forest was more important than that of opal and was around 1170 kg/ha. Therefore, biominerals contribute in a substantial way to the biogeochemical cycles of silicon and calcium.

Auteurs, date et publication :

Auteurs C. Krieger , C. Calvaruso , C. Morlot , S. Uroz , L. Salsi , M.-P. Turpault

Publication : Geobiology

Date : 2023

Volume : 15

Issue : 2

Pages : 296-310


#FORET Montiers