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Growth and biomineralization of Celtis occidentalis (Ulmaceae) pericarps

American Midland Naturalist 137(2): 266-273

Growth and biomineralization of Celtis occidentalis (Ulmaceae) pericarps

A study of the growth and biomineralization of extant pericarps of Celtis occidentalis was conducted to clarify the chemical nature of the abundant fossil endocarps of Celtis, and to track changes in elemental concentrations with time in a drupe with a highly mineralized endocarp. Fruits were collected at 7-10 days intervals through 1 growing season (155 days). A comparison of size and weight changes showed cyclic growth patterns comprising three distinct periods. Pericarp differentiation into three discrete layers was observable after 46 days of fruit growth. Simultaneous formation of columnar cells of the mesocarp and generation of a silica framework accompanied calcium carbonate deposition within the endocarp. Energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry showed an increasing accumulation of calcium within the endocarp from 206 to 904 counts per sec (cps), while silicon increased from 4 to 133 cps. X-ray diffraction analysis showed aragonite and opal within mature endocarps. Increasingly positive stable carbon isotope ratios (13C) from -26.6 to -21.0 were obtained from the endocarp while those for the exo/mesocarp became slightly more negative as the growing season progressed. This is the first report of the growth and mineralization of drupaceous fruits which accumulate high concentrations of silica and calcium carbonate. Furthermore, the dramatic changes in mineralization, microstructure and stable carbon isotope ratios during maturation must be considered in understanding modern plants and interpreting the fossil record. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Accession: 002854829

DOI: 10.2307/2426845

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