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UV-B absorbing pigments in spores: biochemical responses to shade in a high-latitude birch forest and implications for sporopollenin-based proxies of past environmental change

Author(s): Wesley T. Fraser | Mark A. Sephton | Jonathan S. Watson | Stephen Self | Barry H. Lomax | David I. James | Charles H. Wellman | Terry V. Callaghan | David J. Beerling

Journal: Polar Research
ISSN 0800-0395

Volume: 30;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: FTIR | spores | ferulic acid | p-coumaric acid | shade | sporopollenin.

Current attempts to develop a proxy for Earth's surface ultraviolet-B (UV-B) flux focus on the organic chemistry of pollen and spores because their constituent biopolymer, sporopollenin, contains UV-B absorbing pigments whose relative abundance may respond to the ambient UV-B flux. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy provides a useful tool for rapidly determining the pigment content of spores. In this paper, we use FTIR to detect a chemical response of spore wall UV-B absorbing pigments that correspond with levels of shade beneath the canopy of a high-latitude Swedish birch forest. A 27% reduction in UV-B flux beneath the canopy leads to a significant (p
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