New insights on the functions of carbon‐calcium‐inclusions in plants

Karabourniotis, George
Horner, Harry
Bresta, Panagiota
Nikolopoulos, Dimosthenis
Liakopoulos, Georgios
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The carbon-calcium-inclusions (CCaIs) either as calcium oxalate crystals (CaOx) or amorphous calcium carbonate cystoliths are spread among most photosynthetic organisms. They represent dynamic structures with a significant construction cost and their appearance during evolution indicates an ancient origin. Both types of inclusions share some similar functional characteristics providing adaptive advantages, such as the regulation of Ca level, and the release of CO2 and water molecules upon decomposition. The latter seems to be essential under drought conditions and explains the intense occurrence of these structures in plants thriving in dry climates. It seems, however, that for plants CaOx may represent a more prevalent storage system compared to CaCO3 due to the multifunctionality of oxalate. This compound participates in a number of important soil biogeochemical processes, creates endosymbiosis with beneficial bacteria and provides tolerance against a combination of abiotic (nutrient deprivation, metal toxicity) and biotic (pathogens, herbivores) stress factors. We suggest a reevaluation of the roles of these fascinating plant structures under a new and holistic approach that could enhance our understanding of carbon sequestration at the whole plant level and provide future perspectives.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Karabourniotis, George, Harry T. Horner, Panagiota Bresta, Dimosthenis Nikolopoulos, and Georgios Liakopoulos. "New insights on the functions of carbon‐calcium‐inclusions in plants." New Phytologist (2020), which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/nph.16763. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

biomineralization, calcium oxalate crystals, carbon calcium inclusions, cystoliths, drought stress