- Decomposition of Juncus seeds in a valley mire (Faroe Islands) over a 900 year period
- Organic Geochemistry
- Volume | Issue number
- 39 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
The influence of past depositional environments on the chemistry of sub-fossil Juncus seed coats (testa) from the top 1 m (corresponding to ca. 900 years of peat accumulation) of a peat bog in the Faroe Islands was examined. The chemistry of the testa of fresh Juncus seeds were characterised using thermally assisted pyrolysis and methylation (THM) in the presence of tetramethyl ammonium hydroxide (TMAH) and ‘type’ compounds were identified, representative of the major chemical groups in the testa (cellulose-related sugars, lignin-related phenolics, fatty acids). The abundance of the ‘type’ compounds in the products from sub-fossil testae (the internal tissues of the seeds do not survive beyond the very early stages of decomposition) was then quantified at contiguous 1 cm depth intervals. Major losses of C18 unsaturated fatty acid methyl esters and sugars were associated with the fresh to sub-fossil transition at ca. 7 cm depth. The preservation of the phenolic ferulic acid in the seed testa appears to be favoured by the input of small basaltic particles from the nearby stream channel. The mechanism by which inwash of inorganic material may be responsible for the improved chemical preservation of the Juncus seed testa is, however, unclear. The sugars were easily metabolised by microorganisms under aerobic conditions of low water table and preserved under anoxic conditions with high water table, suggesting that a drier mire surface may result in the more efficient depletion of polysaccharides and cellulose during the initial stage of decomposition in the acrotelm.
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