A novel method to characterize silica bodies in grasses

Clemon Dabney, Jason Ostergaard, Eric Watkins, Changbin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: The deposition of silicon into epidermal cells of grass species is thought to be an important mechanism that plants use as a defense against pests and environmental stresses. There are a number of techniques available to study the size, density and distribution pattern of silica bodies in grass leaves. However, none of those techniques can provide a high-throughput analysis, especially for a great number of samples. Results: We developed a method utilizing the autofluorescence of silica bodies to investigate their size and distribution, along with the number of carbon inclusions within the silica bodies of perennial grass species Koeleria macrantha. Fluorescence images were analyzed by image software Adobe Photoshop CS5 or ImageJ that remarkably facilitated the quantification of silica bodies in the dry ash. We observed three types of silica bodies or silica body related mineral structures. Silica bodies were detected on both abaxial and adaxial epidermis of K. macrantha leaves, although their sizes, density, and distribution patterns were different. No auto-fluorescence was detected from carbon inclusions. Conclusions: The combination of fluorescence microscopy and image processing software displayed efficient utilization in the identification and quantification of silica bodies in K. macrantha leaf tissues, which should applicable to biological, ecological and geological studies of grasses including forage, turf grasses and cereal crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalPlant Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Dry ash-imaging
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Junegrass
  • Koeleria macrantha
  • Photoshop
  • Silica body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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