I am currently studying the ecology and evolution of plant silicon-accumulation. Grasses and many other plant groups are able to mobilize silicon from the soil water and deposit it in aboveground tissue as phytoliths. Interestingly, silicon alleviates abiotic and biotic stress, and plants are able to respond to environmental cues to regulate silicon uptake. I use grasses as a model organism and Serengeti National Park as a model system to approach many of my research questions, which include:
How do environmental gradients influence plant silicification?
Why did grasses evolve heavily silicified leaves?
What are the ecophysiological consequences of foliar silicon accumulation in grasses?