Silica deposition in cereals
The mechanism of silica deposition in cereals. When silica is taken up by a plant most of it is transported through the xylem to the leaves where it is  deposited as solid amorphous silica and serves as a defence against predators. One area of research that I am interested in is the mechanism of this silica deposition. We have conducted a detailed investigation of silica accumulation in the roots of a variety of cereals. Much of our work has concerned silica deposition in the root endodermis of wheat. We now know precisely when silica is deposited in various parts of the root, and have conducted preliminary investigations with inhibitors of the deposition process. My colleague, Allan Sangster, presented some of this data at an international symposium on plant silica research held in Florida in 1999. The proceedings of the conference are now published by Elsevier including our chapter:
SANGSTER, A.G., HODSON, M.J. & TUBB, H.J. (2001) Silicon deposition in higher plants. In "Silicon in agriculture." (Eds L.E. Datnoff, G.H. Snyder, G.H. Korndorfer) Elsevier Science, Amsterdam. 85-113.
You can see more details and order information at the Elsevier Science site. Just type in "Silicon in agriculture" into their search engine, and you will find it!

The Second Silicon in Agriculture Conference was held in Tsuruoka, Japan from August 22-26, 2002. It was a great conference, and I presented a paper on "Silicon and Abiotic Stress".

Isotopes in Phytoliths
My most recent work on silicon in cereals concerns silicon, oxygen and carbon isotopes in wheat phytoliths:
HODSON, M.J., PARKER, A.G., LENG, M.J. & SLOANE, H.J. (2008) Silicon, oxygen and carbon isotope composition of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) phytoliths- implications for palaeoecology and archaeology. Journal of Quaternary Science 23, 331339.
Melanie Leng asked me to contribute the plant section for a review on silicon isotopes in a new journal appropriately called "Silicon":
LENG, M.J., SWANN, G.E.A., HODSON, M.J., TYLER, J.J., PATWARDHAN, S.V. & SLOANE, H.J. (2009) The potential use of silicon isotope composition of biogenic silica as a proxy for environmental change. Silicon 1, 65-77.