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Stable Hydrogen Isotope Ratios of Lignin Methoxyl Groups as a Paleoclimate Proxy and Constraint of the Geographical Origin of Wood

Frank Keppler, David B. Harper, Robert M. Kalin, Wolfram Meier-Augenstein, Nicola Farmer, Simon Davis, Hanns-Ludwig Schmidt, David M. Brown and John T. G. Hamilton
The New Phytologist
Vol. 176, No. 3 (2007), pp. 600-609
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4627195
Page Count: 10
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Abstract

• 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 (δ²H values) of methoxyl groups in lignin from wood of trees grown in different geographical areas were measured using compound-specific pyrolysis isotope ratio mass spectrometry analysis. • Lignin methoxyl groups were depleted in ²H relative to both meteoric water and whole wood. A high correlation (r² = 0.91) was observed between the δ²H values of the methoxyl groups and meteoric water, with a relatively uniform fractionation of -216 ± 19‰ recorded with respect to meteoric water over a range of δ²H values from -110 in northern Norway to +20‱ in Yemen. Thus, woods from northern latitudes can be clearly distinguished from those from tropical regions. By contrast, the δ²H values of bulk wood were only relatively poorly correlated (r² = 0.47) with those of meteoric water. • Measurement of the δ₂H 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.

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