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Issue 6, 2007
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Rapid determination of spore chemistry using thermochemolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy

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Abstract

Spore chemistry is at the centre of investigations aimed at producing a proxy record of harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV-B) through time. A biochemical proxy is essential owing to an absence of long-term (century or more) instrumental records. Spore cell material contains UV-B absorbing compounds that appear to be synthesised in variable amounts dependent on the ambient UV-B flux. To facilitate these investigations we have developed a rapid method for detecting variations in spore chemistry using combined thermochemolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Our method was tested using spores obtained from five populations of the tropical lycopsid Lycopodium cernuum growing across an altitudinal gradient (650–1981 m a.s.l.) in S.E. Asia with the assumption that they experienced a range of UV-B radiation doses. Thermochemolysis and subsequent pyrolysis liberated UV-B pigments (ferulic and para-coumaric acid) from the spores. All of the aromatic compounds liberated from spores by thermochemolysis and pyrolysis were active in UV-B protection. The various functional groups associated with UV-B protecting pigments were rapidly detected by micro-FTIR and included the aromatic C[double bond, length as m-dash]C absorption band which was exclusive to the pigments. We show increases in micro-FTIR aromatic absorption (1510 cm−1) with altitude that may reflect a chemical response to higher UV-B flux. Our results indicate that rapid chemical analyses of historical spore samples could provide a record ideally suited to investigations of a proxy for stratospheric O3 layer variability and UV-B flux over historical (century to millennia) timescales.

Graphical abstract: Rapid determination of spore chemistry using thermochemolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy

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Publication details

The article was received on 06 Dec 2006, accepted on 27 Mar 2007 and first published on 18 Apr 2007


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B617794H
Citation: Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2007,6, 689-694
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    Rapid determination of spore chemistry using thermochemolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy

    J. S. Watson, M. A. Sephton, S. V. Sephton, S. Self, W. T. Fraser, B. H. Lomax, I. Gilmour, C. H. Wellman and D. J. Beerling, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2007, 6, 689
    DOI: 10.1039/B617794H

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