Advances in Earth Science ›› 2023, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (2): 212-220. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2022.102

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Phytolith-Occluded Carbon and Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Cycle: Opportunities and Challenges

Yuxin ZHANG 1( ), Xinxin ZUO 2( )   

  1. 1.School of Geographical Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2.School of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China
  • Received:2021-06-07 Revised:2022-08-04 Online:2023-02-10 Published:2023-03-02
  • Contact: Xinxin ZUO;
  • About author:ZHANG Yuxin (2000-), female, Yunxiao County, Fujian Province, Master student. Research area includes physical geography. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China “Phytolith evidence of rice origin and environmental changes in the East China Sea Shelf during the last deglacial”(41771241)

Yuxin ZHANG, Xinxin ZUO. Phytolith-Occluded Carbon and Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Cycle: Opportunities and Challenges[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2023, 38(2): 212-220.

A small amount of organic carbon, referred to as phytolith-occluded carbon (PhytOC), is occluded during phytolith formation. This carbon fraction has been demonstrated to be an important form of carbon sequestration. Thus, it has drawn particular attention from many researchers in the study of the terrestrial carbon cycle because it is of great significance for increasing terrestrial ecosystem carbon sinks and delaying global warming caused by the greenhouse gas effect. First, we briefly reviewed the research history and current status of PhytOC. Then, focusing on the long-term changes in PhytOC, we discussed the questions and challenges of PhytOC and terrestrial ecosystem carbon sinks as well as the recent argument that carbon sequestration by PhytOC in terrestrial ecosystems was highly overestimated. However, to more accurately estimate the phytolith carbon sink, some factors should be considered regarding long-term changes in PhytOC, such as different carbon-occluded abilities, carbon source, and stability of phytolith, decay rate of PhytOC in soil, and the impact of different phytolith extraction methods on PhytOC. As a result, the status and importance of PhytOC in studying terrestrial carbon sinks would be enhanced.

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