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Carbon-calcium inclusions (CCaI) 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 levels, 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 with 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 re-evaluation 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. © 2020 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2020 New Phytologist Trust.


George Karabourniotis, Harry T Horner, Panagiota Bresta, Dimosthenis Nikolopoulos, Georgios Liakopoulos. New insights into the functions of carbon-calcium inclusions in plants. The New phytologist. 2020 Nov;228(3):845-854

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PMID: 32583442

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