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Application of a stable carbon isotope for identifying Broussonetia papyrifera pollen


The objective of this study was to investigate whether δ13C values can be used to identify pollen specie in the atmosphere. A Burkard 7-day recording volumetric spore trap was used to collected pollens in the atmosphere in Tainan City, Taiwan, from January 2 to December 28, 2006, and a light microscope was used to identify the pollen species and concentrations. A Burkard cyclone sampler was used to collect particulate matter and an elemental analyzer with an isotope ratio mass spectrometer was used to analyze the δ13C values. Our data showed that the predominate pollen specie in the atmosphere was Broussonetia papyrifera pollen and that the annual average concentration was 27 grains/m3 (pollen season, 36; nonpollen season, 9 grains/m3). The average δ13C value was − 26.19‰ for particulate matter in the atmosphere (pollen season, − 26.00‰; nonpollen season, − 26.28‰). No significant association was observed between δ13C values and Broussonetia papyrifera pollen concentrations. However, the δ13C value in the atmosphere was associated with the levels of Broussonetia papyrifera pollen among the samples with a diameter of particulate matter smaller than 10 μm at a level lower than 40 μg/m3. In addition, the relative contribution of Broussonetia papyrifera pollen to the carbon in the atmosphere using a two end-member mixing models was found to be associated with the Broussonetia papyrifera pollen concentration. In summary, our study suggested that δ13C values can be applied in the assessment of Broussonetia papyrifera pollen specie under specific conditions in the atmosphere.

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We would like to thank Dr. Pei-Chih Wu and Dr. Kun-Cheng Chang for their experiment supporting the identification of pollen categories.

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Correspondence to Huey-Jen Su.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Jung, CC., Lee, CP., Wang, WC. et al. Application of a stable carbon isotope for identifying Broussonetia papyrifera pollen. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 27353–27361 (2019).

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  • Pollen
  • Broussonetia papyrifera
  • Carbon isotope