UV-B absorbing pigments in spores: biochemical responses to shade in a high-latitude birch forest and implications for sporopollenin-based proxies of past environmental change
Current attempts to develop a proxy for Earth’s surface ultraviolet-B (UV-B) flux focus on the organic chemistry of pollen and spores because their constituent biopolymer, sporopollenin, contains UV-B absorbing pigments whose relative abundance may respond to the ambient UV-B flux. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy provides a useful tool for rapidly determining the pigment content of spores. In this paper, we use FTIR to detect a chemical response of spore wall UV-B absorbing pigments that corresponds with levels of shade beneath the canopy of a high-latitude Swedish birch forest. A 27% reduction in UV-B flux beneath the canopy leads to a significant (p<0.05) 7.3% reduction in concentration of UV-B absorbing compounds in sporopollenin. The field data from this natural flux gradient in UV-B further support our earlier work on sporopollenin-based proxies derived from sedimentary records and herbaria collections.
Keywords: FTIR, spores, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, shade, sporopollenin
(Published: 23 August 2011)
Citation: Polar Research 2011, 30, 8312, DOI: 10.3402/polar.v30i0.8312
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 Unported License.
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the Norwegian Polar Institute.