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

  • Wesley T. Fraser
  • Mark A. Sephton
  • Jonathan S. Watson
  • Stephen Self
  • Barry H. Lomax
  • David I. James
  • Charles H. Wellman
  • Terry V. Callaghan
  • David J. Beerling
Keywords: FTIR, spores, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, shade, sporopollenin

Abstract

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

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Published
2011-08-23
How to Cite
Fraser, W., Sephton, M., Watson, J., Self, S., Lomax, B., James, D., Wellman, C., Callaghan, T., & Beerling, D. (2011). 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. Polar Research. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v30i0.8312
Section
Research/review articles