Carbon isotope anomaly in the major plant C-1 pool and its global biogeochemical implications

F. Keppler, R. Kalin, DB Harper, WC McRoberts, JTG Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

We report that the most abundant C-1 units of terrestrial plants, the methoxyl groups of pectin and lignin, have a unique carbon isotope signature exceptionally depleted in C-13. Plant-derived C-1 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also anomalously depleted in C-13 compared with Cn+1 VOCs. The results confirm that the plant methoxyl pool is the predominant source of biospheric C-1 compounds of plant origin such as methanol, chloromethane and bromomethane. Furthermore this pool, comprising ca 2.5% of carbon in plant biomass, could be an important substrate for methanogenesis and thus be envisaged as a possible source of isotopically light methane entering the atmosphere. Our findings have significant implications for the use of carbon isotope ratios in elucidation of global carbon cycling. Moreover methoxyl groups could act as markers for biological activity in organic matter of terrestrial and extraterrestrial origin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages8
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume1
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Fingerprint

carbon isotope
isotopes
anomaly
carbon
volatile organic compounds
methyl chloride
volatile organic compound
methane production
pectins
carbon isotope ratio
methane
methanogenesis
bioactive properties
lignin
methanol
organic matter
substrate
atmosphere
biomass

Keywords

  • volatile organic compounds
  • oxidation
  • emmissions
  • chloromethane
  • fractionation

Cite this

Keppler, F. ; Kalin, R. ; Harper, DB ; McRoberts, WC ; Hamilton, JTG. / Carbon isotope anomaly in the major plant C-1 pool and its global biogeochemical implications. In: Biogeosciences. 2004 ; Vol. 1, No. 2. pp. 123-131.
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Carbon isotope anomaly in the major plant C-1 pool and its global biogeochemical implications. / Keppler, F.; Kalin, R.; Harper, DB; McRoberts, WC; Hamilton, JTG.

In: Biogeosciences, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2004, p. 123-131.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Carbon isotope anomaly in the major plant C-1 pool and its global biogeochemical implications

AU - Keppler, F.

AU - Kalin, R.

AU - Harper, DB

AU - McRoberts, WC

AU - Hamilton, JTG

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AB - We report that the most abundant C-1 units of terrestrial plants, the methoxyl groups of pectin and lignin, have a unique carbon isotope signature exceptionally depleted in C-13. Plant-derived C-1 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also anomalously depleted in C-13 compared with Cn+1 VOCs. The results confirm that the plant methoxyl pool is the predominant source of biospheric C-1 compounds of plant origin such as methanol, chloromethane and bromomethane. Furthermore this pool, comprising ca 2.5% of carbon in plant biomass, could be an important substrate for methanogenesis and thus be envisaged as a possible source of isotopically light methane entering the atmosphere. Our findings have significant implications for the use of carbon isotope ratios in elucidation of global carbon cycling. Moreover methoxyl groups could act as markers for biological activity in organic matter of terrestrial and extraterrestrial origin.

KW - volatile organic compounds

KW - oxidation

KW - emmissions

KW - chloromethane

KW - fractionation

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