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Analysis of fossil plant cuticles using vibrational spectroscopy: A new preparation protocol
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2987-5559
2023 (English)In: Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, ISSN 0034-6667, E-ISSN 1879-0615, Vol. 316, article id 104944Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Analyses for organic “fingerprints” on fossilized plant cuticles and pollen hold valuable chemotaxonomic and palaeoclimatic information, and are thus becoming more utilized by palaeobotanists. Plant cuticle and pollen composition are generally analyzed after standard treatments with several chemical reagents for mineral and mesophyll removal. However, the potential alterations on the fossil composition caused by the different cleaning reagents used are still poorly understood. We tested the effects of commonly used palaeobotanical processing methods on the spectra of fossilized cuticles from successions of Late Triassic to Early Jurassic age, including the gymnosperms Lepidopteris, Ginkgoites, Podozamites, Ptilozamites and Pterophyllum astartense. Our study shows that standard chemical processing caused chemical alterations that might lead to erroneous interpretation of the infrared (IR) spectra. The difference in pH caused by HCl induces changes in the proportion between the two bands at ~1720 and 1600 cm 1 (carboxylate and C-C stretch of aromatic compounds) indicating that the band at ~1610 cm 1 at least partially corresponds to carboxylate instead of C-C stretch of aromatic compounds. Interestingly, despite being used in high concentration, HF did not cause changes in the chemical composition of the cuticles. The most alarming changes were caused by the use of Schulze ’s solution, which resulted in the addition of both NO2 and (O)NO2 compounds in the cuticle. Consequently, a new protocol using H2CO3, HF, and H2O2 for preparing fossil plant cuticles aimed for chemical analyses is proposed, which provides an effective substitute to the conventional methods. In particular, a less aggressive and more sustainable alternative to Schulze’s solution is shown to be hydrogen peroxide, which causes only minor alteration of the fossil cuticle ’s chemical composition. Future work should carefully follow protocols, having in mind the impacts of different solutions used to treat leaves and other palaeobotanical material such as palynomorphs with aims to enable the direct comparison of spectra obtained in different studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023. Vol. 316, article id 104944
Keywords [en]
Fossil cuticle, Schulze’s solution, Hydrogen peroxide, Micro-FTIR, Carbonic acid
National Category
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
The changing Earth
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-5288DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2023.104944OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-5288DiVA, id: diva2:1792198
Funder
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, KAW 2020.0145Swedish Research Council, VR 2019-4061Available from: 2023-08-28 Created: 2023-08-28 Last updated: 2023-12-06Bibliographically approved

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