Silicon is a beneficial element for many plants, and is deposited in plant tissue as amorphous bio-opal (phytoliths). The biochemical processes of uptake and precipitation induce isotope fractionation: the mass-dependent shift in the relative abundances of the stable isotopes of silicon. At the bulk scale, the silicon isotope composition reported as δ30Si span from -2 to +6 ‰. To further constrain these variations, at the scale of individual phytolith fragments we applied in situ femtosecond laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (fsLA-MC-ICP-MS) to a set of 7 natural phytolith samples.
Two phytoliths samples (Norway spruce Picea abies and European beech Fagus sylvatica L.) were extracted from the organic-rich topsoil horizon (O) of two studies sites in Germany (Beerenbusch, close to village Rheinsberg and Wildmooswald, in the southern Black Forest). The other five phytolith samples (bushgrass Calamagrostis epigejos, common reed Phragmites australis, common horsetail Equisetum arvense, annual and perennial rough horsetail Equisetum hyemale) were separated from plant materials.
The individual phytolith fragments were analysed by fsLA-MC-ICP-MS and Si isotope results are reported in the δ-notation (delta) as permil deviation relative to NIST SRM610, which is isotopically indistinguishable from the reference material NBS28 (quartz NIST SRM8546 alias NBS28, δ29Si ≡ 0 and δ30Si ≡ 0). Raw data processing and background corrections were made according to the protocol described in Schuessler and von Blanckenburg (2014) that also involves application of several data rejection/acceptance criteria. Of these, the most important ones are that A) only 30/28Si and 29/28Si ratios are used for the calculation which deviate less than 3 standard deviation from the mean and B) only results which follow the mass-depended terrestrial fractionation line in a three-isotope-plot of δ29Si vs. δ30Si within analytical uncertainties and C) have a mass bias drift between the two bracketing standards of less than 0.30 ‰ in 30/28Si are accepted and reported in this study.
Detailed description of the sample origin, preparation steps, and the measurement protocol can be found in Frick, D. A.; Schuessler, J. A.; Sommer, M.; von Blanckenburg, F. (2018): Laser ablation in situ silicon stable isotope analysis of phytoliths. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research. https://doi.org/10.1111/ggr.12243. With this supplement we aim to provide a comprehensive dataset for in situ stable silicon isotope composition of individual phytolith fragments.