Plants and Light Manipulation: The Integrated Mineral System in Okra Leaves

Maria Pierantoni, Ron Tenne, Vlad Brumfeld, Vladimir Kiss, Dan Oron, Lia Addadi, Steve Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Calcium oxalate and silica minerals are common components of a variety of plant leaves. These minerals are found at different locations within the leaf, and there is little conclusive evidence about the functions they perform. Here tools are used from the fields of biology, optics, and imaging to investigate the distributions of calcium oxalate, silica minerals, and chloroplasts in okra leaves, in relation to their functions. A correlative approach is developed to simultaneously visualize calcium oxalates, silica minerals, chloroplasts, and leaf soft tissue in 3D without affecting the minerals or the organic components. This method shows that in okra leaves silica and calcium oxalates, together with chloroplasts, form a complex system with a highly regulated relative distribution. This distribution points to a significant role of oxalate and silica minerals to synergistically optimize the light regime in the leaf. The authors also show directly that the light scattered by the calcium oxalate crystals is utilized for photosynthesis, and that the ultraviolet component of light passing through silica bodies, is absorbed. This study thus demonstrates that calcium oxalates increase the illumination level into the underlying tissue by scattering the incoming light, and silica reduces the amount of UV radiation entering the tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1600416
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • calcium oxalate
  • microCT–confocal correlative microscopy
  • photosynthesis
  • silica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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