Stable hydrogen isotope ratios of lignin methoxyl groups as a palaeoclimate proxy

F. Keppler, D.B. Haper, R.M. Kalin, W. Meier-Augenstein, N. Farmer, S. Davis, H- Schmidt, David Brown, J.T.G. Hamilton

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    • Stable isotope ratios of organic compounds are valuable tools for determining the geographical origin, identity, authenticity or history of samples from a vast range of sources such as sediments, plants and animals, including humans. • Hydrogen isotope ratios (d2H values) of methoxyl groups in lignin from wood of trees grown in different geographical areas were measured using compound-specificpyrolysis isotope ratio mass spectrometry analysis. • Lignin methoxyl groups were depleted in 2H relative to both meteoric water andwhole wood. A high correlation (r2=0.91) was observed between the d2 H valuesof the methoxyl groups and meteoric water, with a relatively uniform fractionation of –216±19 recorded with respect to meteoric water over a range of d2H values from –110 in northern Norway to + 20‰ in Yemen. Thus, woods from northernlatitudes can be clearly distinguished from those from tropical regions. By contrast, the d2H values of bulk wood were only relatively poorly correlated (r 2 = 0.47) with those of meteoric water. • Measurement of the d 2H values of lignin methoxyl groups is potentially a powerful tool that could be of use not only in the constraint of the geographical origin of lignified material but also in paleoclimate, food authenticity and forensic investigations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)600-609
    Number of pages10
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Volume176 (3)
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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