The Phytolith Research Institute (PRI) was established in the year 2006. It is the only private institute in Asia dedicated for the application of phytolith analysis in various interdisciplinary sciences. PRI is housed with a laboratory, microscopes, reference library and an in house herbarium. It is an ideal place for the growth of Phytolith science.

Typical Panicoid Phytolith SEMThe Phytolith Research Institute provides International services to analyze various samples and provide scientific services for Archaeologist, Environmentalist, Agronomist and other interdisciplinary sciences. Through this diverse experience the Institute is enriching and growing with fellow scientist around the world. The institute aims at bringing together scientist from all around the World who are interested in the science of Phytoliths.

Phytoliths are microscopic plant silica bodies found within the cell structure. They are basically microfossils of opal silica; they are left behind in soil when the plant dies. They take the shape and size of the cell in which they are formed. The size of phytoliths generally ranges from 1 to 200 microns. Phytolith study is developing global importance, as they remain well preserved under any soil conditions especially when other microfossils like pollens and spores are difficult to be traced. They are classified as per the Grass types in which they are formed, such as Panicoid, Chloridoid etc. Phytoliths are also classified as per the anatomical context of the plant such as trichome, bulliform etc. 

“The increasing imputes on research has lead to exploration of several new avenues of social sciences and science disciplines that contribute substantially to holistic knowledge of our surrounding. The study of Phytoliths is one such discipline. It helps to revel an amazing amalgamation of information pertaining to the biodiversity of a region, especially reconstruction the past. Sanjay Eksambekar’s Phytolith Research Institute In Pune, Maharashtra, aims at just that.”
“ It is the first institute in India that concentrates on the hitherto lesser-known discipline in the sub-continent that undertakes better understanding of the past environment”

The Statesman, Kolkata.

“ With the diversification of scientific disciplines the world over, several new avenues of research work has been supplemented with rich available data, records and resources. This has substantially led to the exploration and understanding of new faculties which had so far been limited to theoretical data. One such discipline of scientific research work is the less known field of Phytoliths. In an effort to take the knowledge of Phytolith research in India and world over to a bigger audience, Sanjay Eksambekar has recently opened the Phytolith Research Institute.”

                        The Times of India, Pune.

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Research Applications

Phytolith analysis is used in wide research areas; few examples of Phytolith applications are mentioned here:

  1. Phytolith database generated is useful for Ecologist, Environmentalist, Geologist, Archaeologist and Biologist.
  1. To understand forest-grassland vegetation dynamics, landscape, disturbance and management.
  1. To investigate the wet and dry phases within an ecosystem by phytolith analysis. And further investigate the reasons behind such changes- artificial/ natural.
  1. Phytolith and other microfossils study from dust, soil and water - within Protected areas (PA), non-protected areas and polluted areas to understand the phytolith influx/dissolution within a system.
  1. Investigating Man land relationships and exploitation of plants
  1. Phytolith mapping from different ecological zones – useful for comparative analysis and understand the possible cause for loss of biodiversity.


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PRI Services

Phytolith research institute provides a wide range of services catering various interdisciplinary scientific requirements:

-Qualitative and quantitative Phytolith analysis from Archaeological samples of:

  • Soil
  • Ash
  • Dust
  • Residue
  • Coprolites
  • Dental calculus…
  • Stone tools

- Publication of results and briefs
-On site sampling strategy -

  • Archaeological
  • Geological

-Soil and water analysis
-Reference Phytolitharium
-Climatic modeling
-Forensic investigations
-Analysis of Starch grains & Spherulites
-Phytolith carbon sequestration
-Scientific writing & consultancy
-Collaborations: national and international
-Laboratory Training
-Workshops and Courses
-Science promotion program

“The charges for each individual services differ. Fees may be charged by the hour or by the job, depending on the number of samples or nature of work. Contact us for quotes or further enquires”

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Dr. Sanjay Eksambekar

Dr. Sanjay EksambekarDr. Sanjay Eksambekar is the Founder of the Phytolith Research Institute. He is the first Indian who has worked on Phytoliths for his Doctorate. His research has generated the first indigenous classification of Phytoliths in India. Eksambekar has presented several research papers on Phytolith analysis at various national and international conferences held at Madrid, France, Brussels, Cambridge, Moscow, Barcelona…He is an elected Fellow of Linnean Society of London as well as The Royal Microscopical Society, Oxford. He is also associated with various learned societies worldwide.

He is specialized in identification and interpretation of microscopic plant materials from many different archaeological and geological context, within and outside India

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Aims and objectives of PRI:

  • To give the best professional services available.
  • To advance the understanding of Phytolith science.
  • To Promote and encourage research in all the fields related to Phytolith science.
  • To bring together scientist of various background s and disciplines to facilitate the integration of Phytolith research.
  • To cultivate, promote and disseminate the knowledge of all branches of Phytolith science.
  • To maintain close association and co-operation among those devoting time to any branch of plant sciences, within and outside India.
  • To maintain the highest standard in the ethics and practice in all the fields of Phytolith sciences.
  • To encourage and stimulate interest in research of Phytolith science.
  • The mission is to accomplish exchange of information and ideas on Phytolith analysis.
  • To promote all other activities that will contribute to the development of Phytolith Science.
  • To co-operate with other organizations having similar objectives.


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Phytolith Album

Classic example of Ancient Diagnostic Phytoliths from Neolithic and Chalcolithic Indian sites.

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In view of the Aims and Objectives of the Phytolith Research Institute it welcomes International memberships.

Associate Members: Research scholars working or interested in phytoliths.

Junior members: Graduate students of Botany, geology and Life sciences.

 Members will be benefited by various Publications and activities of the Institute.


“Please apply by giving an outline of your Academic interest ”


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The Phytolith Research Institute undertakes joint projects from various academic institutes and also provides first hand training on Phytolith analysis. The major ongoing projects of the institute are-

  • Investigation of Phytoliths from Select Plant Species of the Western Ghats
  • Taphonomic Investigation of Phytoliths.



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Dr. Sanjay Eksambekar


Tel: +91- 020-27612845
Fax: +91-020- 27441835
Mob: +91- (0) 9890370388


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