ASU conducts phytolith analysis

9 July 2016 Faculty of Biology

People’s knowledge about nature is not limited to its present. It is interesting to the future or past of our planet. ASU biologists conduct research of Altai Krai vegetation cover ancient history. The special science that helps them do that is called paleobotany.

At the beginning of paleobotany establishment, the scientists had to work with petrified and carbonized remains of the plants. With the development of chemistry and technologies, the research of subvisible objects such as pollen, cuticular casts, fragments of algae, fungi and phytoliths came to the fore.

The main method used by ASU paleobotanists is phytolith analysis. Phytoliths are unique microscopic structures made of silica, having original shape, found in some plant tissues and helping to identify the plant even after its decay.  By studying these micro-objects in the soil, biologists can describe the history of vegetation cover that used to exist thousands and tens of thousands years ago.

Such interesting research works are conducted under the supervision of Doctor of Biology, Professor Marina M. Silantyeva. Phytolith analysis is also carried out by students of the Faculty of Biology. In June 2016 students and postgraduates of the faculty visited the All-Russian Youth Conference-School with International Engagement “Biogenic  Records of the Past Landscape Changes”.

M.Yu. Solomonova, Faculty of Biology postgraduate student:

“I conduct phytolith analysis since my 3rd year in the university. It is a rapidly developing research area. The number of academic publications on this topic has doubled within the last 5 years. This area combines everything I had dreamt about when I entered the Faculty of Biology: field, laboratory and microscopic studies.”

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