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The impact of oxidation on spore and pollen chemistry

Jardine, Phillip E.; Fraser, Wesley T.; Lomax, Barry H. and Gosling, William D. (2015). The impact of oxidation on spore and pollen chemistry. Journal of Micropalaeontology, 34(2) pp. 139–149.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1144/jmpaleo2014-022
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Abstract

Sporomorphs (pollen and spores) have an outer wall composed of sporopollenin. Sporopollenin chemistry contains both a signature of ambient ultraviolet-B flux and taxonomic information, but it is currently unknown how sensitive this is to standard palynological processing techniques. Oxidation in particular is known to cause physical degradation to sporomorphs, and it is expected that this should have a concordant impact on sporopollenin chemistry. Here, we test this by experimentally oxidizing Lycopodium (clubmoss) spores using two common oxidation techniques: acetolysis and nitric acid. We also carry out acetolysis on eight angiosperm (flowering plant) taxa to test the generality of our results. Using Fourier Transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, we find that acetolysis removes labile, non-fossilizable components of sporomorphs, but has a limited impact upon the chemistry of sporopollenin under normal processing durations. Nitric acid is more aggressive and does break down sporopollenin and reorganize its chemical structure, but when limited to short treatments (i.e. ≤10 min) at room temperature sporomorphs still contain most of the original chemical signal. These findings suggest that when used carefully oxidation does not adversely affect sporopollenin chemistry, and that palaeoclimatic and taxonomic signatures contained within the sporomorph wall are recoverable from standard palynological preparations.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 The Authors
ISSN: 2041-4978
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes (SE-12-046-WG)NE/K005294/1NERC
Not SetRG120535Royal Society
Keywords: oxidation; palynology; ultraviolet-B; FTIR; sporopollenin
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 42680
Depositing User: Phillip Jardine
Date Deposited: 06 May 2015 14:14
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2016 20:24
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/42680
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