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Short chain ladderanes: Oxic biodegradation products of anammox lipids

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Darci Rush


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Anammox, the microbial anaerobic oxidation of ammonium by nitrite to produce dinitrogen gas, has been recognized as a key process in both the marine and freshwater nitrogen cycles, and found to be a major sink for fixed inorganic nitrogen in the oceans. Ladderane lipids are unique anammox bacterial membrane lipids that have been used as biomarkers for anammox bacteria in recent and past environmental settings. However, the fate of ladderane lipids during diagenesis is as of yet unknown. In this study, we performed oxic degradation experiments (at 20–100 °C) with anammox bacterial biomass to simulate early diagenetic processes occurring in the water column and at the sediment–water interface. Abundances of C18 and C20 ladderane lipids decreased with increasing temperatures, testifying to their labile nature. The most abundant products formed were ladderane lipids with a shorter alkyl side chain (C14 and C16 ladderane fatty acids), which was unambiguously established using two-dimensional NMR techniques on an isolated C14-[3]-ladderane fatty acid. The most pronounced production of these short-chain lipids was at 40 °C, suggesting that degradation of ladderane lipids was microbially mediated, likely through a β-oxidation pathway. An HPLC–MS/MS method was developed for the detection of these ladderane alteration products in environmental samples and positively tested on various sediments. This showed that the ladderanes formed during degradation experiments also naturally occur in the marine environment. Thus, short-chain ladderane lipids may complement the original longer-chain ladderane lipids as suitable biomarkers for the detection of anammox processes in past depositional environments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rush D, Jaeschke A, Hopmans EC, Geenevasen JAJ, Schouten S, Sinninghe Damsté JS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

Year: 2011

Volume: 75

Issue: 6

Pages: 1662-1671

Print publication date: 15/03/2011

ISSN (print): 0016-7037

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9533

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2011.01.013


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