Biogeochemistry

, Volume 100, Issue 1–3, pp 75–87 | Cite as

Biomarker assessment of organic matter sources and degradation in Canadian High Arctic littoral sediments

  • Brent G. Pautler
  • Janice Austin
  • Angelika Otto
  • Kailey Stewart
  • Scott F. Lamoureux
  • Myrna J. Simpson
Article

Abstract

Carbon stocks in the High Arctic are particularly sensitive to global climate change and the investigation of the variation in organic matter (OM) composition is beneficial for improved understanding of OM vulnerability. OM biomarker characterization of solvent–extractable compounds and CuO oxidation products of littoral sedimentary OM in the Canadian Arctic was conducted to determine OM sources and decomposition patterns. The solvent–extracts contained a series of aliphatic lipids, steroids and one triterpenoid of higher plant origin as well as the low abundance of iso- and anteiso-alkanes originating from Cerastium arcticum (Arctic mouse-ear chickweed), a native angiosperm. The carbon preference index (CPI) of the n-alkane, n-alkanol and n-alkanoic acid biomarkers suggests relatively fresh lipid material in the early stages of degradation. The CuO oxidation products were comprised of benzenes, lignin-derived phenols and short–chain diacids and hydroxyacids. A high abundance of these terrestrial biomarkers at sites close to the river inlet suggests soil-derived fluvial inputs are an important source of OM delivered to the littoral sediments. The high lignin-derived phenol ratios of acids to aldehydes suggest that lignin degradation is in a relatively advanced oxidation stage. The absence of ergosterol, a common fungal biomarker also suggests that lignin-derived OM may be preserved in soil OM and transported to littoral sediments. This representative OM characterization suggests that Arctic sedimentary OM is a mixture of recently deposited and/or preserved lipids in permafrost melt and oxidized lignin-derived OM that may become destabilized from external influences such as climate change.

Keywords

Organic matter Biomarkers Littoral sediments Lignin Lipids Iso-alkanes Anteiso-alkanes 

Abbreviations

OM

Organic matter

GC-MS

Gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry

MAGs

Monoacylglycerols

CPI

Carbon preference index

Ad/Al

Acid/Aldehyde

V

Vanillyl monomers

S

Syringyl monomers

C

Cinnamyl monomers

3,5-DHBA

3,5-Dihydroxybenzoic acid

Supplementary material

10533_2009_9405_MOESM1_ESM.doc (316 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 316 kb)

References

  1. Amelung W, Flach K-W, Kech W (1999) Lignin in particle size fractions of native grassland soils as influenced by climate. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:1222–1228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold R, Convey P, Huges KA, Wynn-Williams DD (2003) Seasonal periodicity of physical factors, inorganic nutrients and microalgae in Antarctic fellfields. Polar Biol 26:396–403Google Scholar
  3. Baker EA (1982) Chemistry and morphology of plant epicuticular waxes. In: Cutler DF, Alvin KL, Price CE (Eds) The plant cuticle. Linnean Society Symposium Series 10. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Benner R, Weliky K, Hedges JI (1990) Early diagenesis of mangrove leaves in a tropical estuary: molecular-level analysis of neutral sugars and lignin-derived phenols. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 54:1991–2001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bertilsson SD, Stepanauskas R, Cuadros-Hansson R, Graneli W, Wikner J, Tranvik L (1999) Photochemically induced changes in bioavailable carbon and nitrogen pools in a boreal watershed. Aquat Microb Ecol 19:47–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bianchi G (1995) Plant Waxes. In: Hamilton RJ (ed) Waxes: chemistry, molecular biology and functions. The Oily Press, DundeeGoogle Scholar
  7. Billings WD (1987) Carbon balance of Alaskan tundra and taiga ecosystems: past, present and future. Quat Sci Rev 6:165–177Google Scholar
  8. Boddy E, Roberts P, Hill PW, Farrar J, Jones DL (2008) Turnover of low molecular weight dissolved organic C (DOC) and microbial C exhibit different temperature sensitivities in Arctic tundra soils. Soil Biol Biochem 40:1557–1566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bray EE, Evans ED (1961) Distribution of n-paraffins as a clue to the recognition of source beds. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 27:1113–1127Google Scholar
  10. Bull ID, van Bergen PF, Nott CJ, Poulton PR, Evershed RP (2000) Organic geochemical studies of soils from the Rothamsted classical experiments. V. The fate of lipids in different long-term experiments. Org Geochem 31:389–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bundy LG, Bremner JM (1972) A simple titrimetric method for determination of inorganic carbon in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 36:273–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cockburn JMH, Lamoureux SF (2008) Hydroclimate controls over seasonal sediments in two adjacent High Arctic watersheds. Hydrol Process 22:2013–2027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. da Cunha LC, Serve L, Gadel F, Blazi J-L (2001) Lignin-derived phenolic compounds in the particulate organic matter of a French Mediterranean river: seasonal and spatial variations. Org Geochem 32:305–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davidson EA, Janssens IA (2006) Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedback to climate change. Nature 440:165–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dinel H, Schnitzer M, Mehuys GR (1990) Soil lipids: origin, nature, content, decomposition, and effect on soil physical properties. In: Bollag J-M, Stotzky G (eds) Soil biochemistry, vol vol. 6. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Ertel JR, Hedges JI (1985) Sources of sedimentary humic substance: vascular plant debris. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 49:2097–2107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Farella N, Lucotte M, Louchouarn P, Roulet M (2001) Deforestation modifying terrestrial organic transport in Rio Trapajos, Brazilian Amazon. Org Geochem 32:1443–1458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feng XJ, Simpson AJ, Wilson KP, Williams DD, Simpson MJ (2008) Increased cuticular carbon sequestration and lignin oxidation in response to soil warming. Nat Geosci 1:836–839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fukushima K, Yoda A, Kayama M, Miki S (2005) Implications of long-chain anteiso compounds in acidic freshwater lake environments: Inawashiro-ko in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Org Geochem 36:311–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goñi MA, Hedges JI (1992) Lignin dimers: structures, distribution and geochemical applications. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 56:4025–4043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goñi MA, Nelson B, Blanchette RA, Hedges JI (1993) Fungal degradation of wood lignins: geochemical perspectives from CuO-derived phenolic dimers and monomers. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 57:3985–4002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goñi MA, Yunker MB, Macdonald RW, Eglinton TI (2000) Distribution and sources of organic biomarkers in arctic sediments from the Mackenzie River and Beaufort Shelf. Mar Chem 71:23–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harwood JL, Russel NJ (1984) Lipids in plants and microbes. George Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Hedges JI, Ertel JR (1982) Characterization of lignin by gas capillary chromatography of cupric oxide oxidation products. Anal Chem 54:174–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hedges JI, Mann DC (1979) The characterization of plant tissues by their lignin oxidation products. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 43:1803–1807CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hedges JI, Ertel JR, Leopold ES (1982) Lignin geochemistry of late Quaternary sediment core from Lake Washington. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 46:1869–1877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hedges JI, Blanchette RA, Weliky K, Devol AH (1988) Effects of fungal degradation on the CuO oxidation products of lignin: a controlled laboratory study. Geochim Cosochim Acta 52:2717–2726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Herbin GA, Robins PA (1968) Plant cuticular waxes III. Leaf wax alkanes and ω-hydroxy acids of some members of the Cupressaceae and Pinaceae. Phytochem 7:1325–1337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hernes PJ, Hedges JI (2004) Tannin signatures of barks, needles, leaves, cones, and wood at the molecular level. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 68:1293–1307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hossain MF, Zhang Y, Chen W, Wang J, Palvic G (2007) Soil organic carbon content in northern Canada: a database of field measurements and its analysis. Can J Soil Sci 87:259–268Google Scholar
  31. Hu FS, Hedges JI, Gordon ES, Brubaker LB (1999) Lignin biomarkers and pollen in postglacial sediments of an Alaskan lake. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 63:1421–1430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Iiyama K, Lam TBT, Stone BA (1990) Phenolic acid bridges between polysaccharides and lignin in wheat internodes. Phytochem 29:733–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ishiwatari R, Uzaki M (1986) Diagenetic changes of lignin compounds in a more than 0.6 million-year-old lacustrine sediment (Lake Biwa, Japan). Geochim Cosmochim Acta 51:321–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kawamura K, Ishiwatari R, Ogura K (1987) Early diagenesis of organic matter in the water column and sediments microbial degradation and resynthesis of lipids in Lake Haruna. Org Geochem 11:251–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kögel-Knabner I (2000) Analytical approaches for characterizing soil organic matter. Org Geochem 31:609–625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kolattukudy PE, Espelie KE (1989) Chemistry, biochemistry, and function of suberin and associated waxes. In: Rowe JW (ed) Natural products of woody plants I. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  37. Kulinski K, Swieta-Musznicka J, Staniszewski A, Pempkowiak J, Latalowa M (2007) Lignin degradation products as palaeoenvironmental proxies in the sediments of small lakes. J Paleolimnol 38:555–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lam TBT, Kadoya K, Iiyam K (2001) Bonding of hydroxycinnamic acids to lignin: ferulic and p-coumaric acids are predominantly linked at the benzyl position of lignin, not the β-position, in grass cell walls. Phytochem 57:987–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lamoureux SF, McDonald DA, Cockburn JMH, Lafrenière MJ, Atkinson DM, Treitz P (2006) An incidence of multi-year sediment storage on channel snowpack in the Canadian High Arctic. Arctic 59:381–390Google Scholar
  40. Louchouarn P, Lucotte M, Farella N (1999) Historical and geographical variations of sources and transport of terrigenous organic matter within a large-scale coastal environment. Org Geochem 30:675–699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mackenzie AS, Brassell SC, Eglinton G, Maxwell JR (1982) Chemical fossils: the geological fate of steroids. Science 217:491–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Matsumoto GI, Watanuki K, Torii T (1988) Hydroxy-acids in Antarctic lake-sediments and the geochemical significance. Org Geochem 13:785–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Meyers PA, Eadie BJ (1993) Sources, degradation, and recycling of organic matter associated with sinking particles in Lake Michigan. Org Geochem 20:47–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Meyers PA, Ishiwatari R (1993) Lacustrine organic geochemistry—an overview of indicators of organic matter sources and diagenesis in lake sediments. Org Geochem 20:867–900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meyers PA, Takeuchi N (1978) Fatty acids and hydrocarbons in surficial sediments of Lake Huron. Org Geochem 1:127–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mikan CJ, Schimel JP, Doyle AP (2002) Temperature controls of microbial respiration in Arctic tundra soils above and below freezing. Soil Biol Biochem 34:1785–1795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nierop KGJ, Jansen B (2009) Extensive transformation of organic matter and excellent lipid preservation at the upper, superhumid Guandera páramo. Geoderma 151:357–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Noda M, Tanka M, Seto Y, Aiba T, Oku C (1988) Occurrence of cholesterol as a major sterol component in leaf surface lipids. Lipids 23:439–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Oechel WC, Vourlitis GL (1995) In: Lal R, Kimble J, Levine E, Stewart BA (eds) Soils & global change. Lewis Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Oechel WC, Hastings SJ, Voulitis G, Jenkins M, Riechers G, Grulke N (1993) Recent change of Arctic tundra ecosystems from a net carbon dioxide sink to a source. Nature 361:520–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Opsahl S, Benner R (1995) Early diagenesis of vascular plant tissues: lignin and cutin decomposition and biogeochemical implications. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 59:4889–4904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Opsahl S, Benner R (1998) Photochemical reactivity of dissolved lignin in river and ocean waters. Limnol Oceanogr 43:1297–1304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Otto A, Simpson MJ (2006) Evaluation of CuO oxidation parameters for determining the source and stage of lignin degradation in soil. Biogeochemistry 80:121–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Otto A, Simpson MJ (2007) Analysis of soil organic matter biomarkers by sequential chemical degradation and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. J Sep Sci 30:272–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Otto A, Shunthrasingham C, Simpson MJ (2005) A comparison of plant and microbial biomarkers in grassland soils from the Prairie Ecozone of Canada. Org Geochem 36:425–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Peters KE, Moldowan JM (1993) The biomarker guide. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  57. Ping C-L, Michaelson GJ, Jorgenson MT, Kimble JM, Epstein H, Romanovsky VE, Walker DA (2008) High stocks of soil organic carbon in the North American Arctic region. Nature Geosci 1:615–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Prahl FG, Ertel JR, Goñi MA, Sparrow MA, Eversmeyer B (1994) Terrestrial organic carbon contributions to sediments on the Washington margin. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 58:3035–3048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Requejo AG, Brown JS, Boehm PD, Sauer TC (1991) Lignin geochemistry of North American coastal and continental shelf sediments. Org Geochem 5:649–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rogge WF, Hildemann LM, Mazurek MA, Cass GR (1994) Sources of fine organic aerosol. 6. Cigarette-Smoke in the urban atmosphere. Environ Sci Technol 28:1375–1388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schlesinger WH, Andrews JA (2000) Soil respiration and global carbon cycle. Biogeochemistry 48:7–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schuur EAG, Vogel JG, Crummer KG, Lee H, Sickman JA, Osterkamp TE (2009) The effect of permafrost thaw on old carbon release and net carbon exchange from tundra. Nature 459:556–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shiea J, Brassell SC, Ward DM (1990) Mid-chain branched mono- and dimethyl alkanes in hot spring cyanobacterial mats: A direct biogenic source for branched alkanes in ancient sediments? Org Geochem 15:223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Simpson AJ, Kingery WL, Hayes MHB, Spraul M, Humpfer E, Dvortsak P, Kerssebaum R, Godejohann M, Hofmann M (2002) Molecular structures and associations of humic substances in the terrestrial environment. Naturwissenschaften 89:84–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sjögersten S, Turner BL, Mahiew N, Condron LM, Wookey PA (2003) Soil organic matter biochemistry and potential susceptibility to climatic change across the forest-tundra ecotone in the Fennoscandian mountains. Glob Change Biol 9:759–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tarnocai C, Canadell JG, Schuur EAG, Kuhry P, Mazhitova G, Zimov S (2009) Soil organic carbon pools in the norther circumpolar permafrost region. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 23, GB2003, doi:10.1029/2008GB003327
  67. Tien M, Kirk TK (1983) Lignin-degrading enzyme from the hymenomycete Phanerochaete chrysosporium Burds. Science 221:661–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Trumbore SE, Chadwick OA, Amundson R (1996) Rapid exchange between soil carbon and atmospheric carbon dioxide driven by temperature change. Science 272:396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tulloch AP (1976) Chemistry of waxes of higher plants. In: Kolattukudy PE (ed) Chemistry and Biochemistry of Natural Waxes. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  70. Tuo JC, Li Q (2005) Occurrence and distribution of long-chain acyclic ketones in immature coals. Appl Geochem 20:553–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Turner BL, Baxtera R, Hahiey N, Sjögersten S, Whitton BA (2004) Phosphorus compound in subarctic Fennoscandian soils and the mountain birch (Betula pubescens)–tundra ecotone. Soil Biol Biochem 36:815–823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Volkman JK, Rohjans D, Rullkotter J, Scholz-Bottcher BM, Liebezeit G (2000) Sources and diagenesis of organic matter in tidal flat sediments from the German Wadden Sea. Cont Shelf Res 20:1139–1158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Walker DA, Raynolds MK, Daniëls FJA, Einarsson E, Elvebakk A, Gould WA, Katenin AE, Khold SS, Markon CJ, Melnikov ES, Moskalenko NG, Talbot SS, Yurtsev BA, the other members of the CAVM Team (2005) The circumpolar Arctic vegetation map. J Veg Sci 16:267–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Weete JD (1976) Algal and fungal waxes. In: Kolattukudy PE (ed) Chemistry and biochemistry of natural waxes. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  75. White DM, Garland DS, Ping C-L, Michaelson G (2002) Characterizing soil organic matter quality in Arctic soil by cover type and depth. Cold Regions Sci Technol 35:185–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zak DR, Kling GW (2006) Microbial community composition and function across an Arctic tundra landscape. Ecology 87:1659–1670CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent G. Pautler
    • 1
  • Janice Austin
    • 1
  • Angelika Otto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kailey Stewart
    • 3
  • Scott F. Lamoureux
    • 3
  • Myrna J. Simpson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Sektion PalaeobotanikFrankfurt/MainGermany
  3. 3.Department of GeographyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

Personalised recommendations