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Leaf metallome preserved over 50 million years

DOI: 10.1039/c3mt00242j DOI Help

Authors: Nicholas Edwards (University of Manchester) , Phillip Manning (University of Manchester) , Uwe Bergmann (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) , Peter Lars Larson (Black Hills Institute of Geological Research) , Bart Van Dongen (University of Manchester) , William Sellers (University of Manchester) , Samuel M Webb (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) , Dimosthenis Sokaras (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) , Roberto Alonso-mori (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) , Konstantin Ignatyev (Diamond Light Source) , Holly Barden (University of Manchester) , Arjen Van Veelen (University of Manchester) , Jennifer Anne (University of Manchester) , Victoria Egerton (University of Manchester) , R A Wogelius (University of Manchester)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Metallomics

State: Published (Approved)
Published: April 2014
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 8597

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: Large-scale Synchrotron Rapid Scanning X-ray Fluorescence (SRS-XRF) elemental mapping and X-ray absorption spectroscopy are applied here to fossil leaf material from the ∼50 Mya Green River Formation (USA) in order to improve our understanding of the chemistry of fossilized plant remains. SRS-XRF of fossilized animals has previously shown that bioaccumulated trace metals and sulfur compounds may be preserved in their original distributions and these elements can also act as biomarkers for specific biosynthetic pathways. Similar spatially resolved chemical data for fossilized plants is sparsely represented in the literature despite the multitude of other chemical studies performed. Here, synchrotron data from multiple specimens consistently show that fossil leaves possess chemical inventories consisting of organometallic and organosulfur compounds that: (1) map discretely within the fossils, (2) resolve fine scale biological structures, and (3) are distinct from embedding sedimentary matrices. Additionally, the chemical distributions in fossil leaves are directly comparable to those of extant leaves. This evidence strongly suggests that a significant fraction of the chemical inventory of the examined fossil leaf material is derived from the living organisms and that original bioaccumulated elements have been preserved in situ for 50 million years. Chemical information of this kind has so far been unknown for fossilized plants and could for the first time allow the metallome of extinct flora to be studied.

Subject Areas: Biology and Bio-materials, Chemistry, Archaeological and Cultural Heritage


Instruments: I18-Microfocus Spectroscopy

Other Facilities: Yes. SSRL