Microbial lipid signatures in Arctic deltaic sediments - insights into methane cycling and climate variability

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Julie Lattaud , Cindy De Jonge, Felix J Elling , Ann Pearson , Timothy Ian Eglinton 


Glycerol Dialkyl Glycerol Tetraethers (GDGTs) are ubiquitous biomolecules whose structural diversity or isotopic composition is increasingly used to reconstruct environmental changes such as air temperatures or pCO2. Isoprenoid GDGTs, in particular GDGT-0, are biosynthesized by a large range of Archaea. To assess the potential of GDGT-0 as a tracer of past methane cycle variations, three sediment cores from the Mackenzie River Delta have been studied for iGDGT and diploptene distribution and stable carbon signature. The absence of crenarchaeol, high GDGT-0 vs crenarchaeol ratio, and 13C-enriched carbon signature of GDGT-0 indicate production by acetoclastic methanogens as well as heterotrophic Archaea. The oxidation of methane seems to be dominated by bacteria as indicated by the high abundance of 13C-depleted diploptene. Branched GDGTs, thought to be produced by heterotrophic bacteria, are dominated by hexa- and penta-methylated 5- and 6-methyl compounds. The presence of 5,6-methyl isomer IIIa’’ points towards in situ production of brGDGTs, with only a minor input from soil branched GDGT brought by the Mackenzie River. Carbon isotopic compositions of brGDGTs are in agreement with heterotrophic producers, likely living during summer. The reconstructed temperatures using a global lake calibration reflect recorded summer air temperature (± 2.14 °C) during the last 60 years, and further highlight the absence of warming in summer in this region during the last 200 years. Oxygen availability and connection time to the Mackenzie River also seem to control the distribution of branched GDGT with an increase in 6-methyl and 5,6-methyl isomers with increased period of anoxia.




Earth Sciences


methane, GDGT, methane cycle, Mackenzie River, temperature reconstruction, carbon isotopes, Mackenzie River, carbon isotopes


Published: 2020-10-24 22:43

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