Taxonomic assessment of opal phytoliths from grasses of deltaic West Bengal, India

28 December 2017

Naskar, Madhab; Bera, Subir

In the present study, taxonomic potential of opal phytoliths was examined in grasses from lower Gangetic delta, West Bengal, India. The study revealed that finer classification of phytoliths can increase the efficacy of opal silica as taxonomic proxy by minimizing the influences of multiplicity and redundancy. 187 phytolith sub-morphotypes, categorized under 10 major groups were isolated from 110 grass species belonging to 45 genera, 21 sub-tribes, 13 tribes, and 7 subfamilies. Cluster and correspondence analyses showed that all the significantly represented subfamilies can be clearly distinguished on the basis of either principal morphotypes or sub-morphotypes. However, genus/species level discrimination may only be possible by deploying phytolith based identification key developed by utilizing detailed grass phytolith micro-morphometry and frequency attributes. We conclude that grass phytolith characteristics provide useful and significant information for distinguishing grass taxa of deltaic West Bengal.