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A comparison of the molecular composition of plant and fungal structuralbiopolymer standards with the organic material in early cretaceous OntongJava Plateau Tuff

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Graham Purvis, Dr Naoko Sano, Dr Cees van der Land, Emeritus Professor Neil GrayORCiD, Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel


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The earlier investigations have suggested that an extensive deep biosphere with a significant fungal componentis present within the sub-oceanic crust. To investigate this organic material in the lithic sections of asub-oceanic volcaniclastic tuff obtained from the eastern lobe of the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP tuff) werecharacterised using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and thermal hydrolysis and methylation coupled togas chromatography/mass spectrometry. In the investigation here, the chemical and molecular compositionof plant and fungal structural biopolymer standards were characterised using the same techniques and thencompared to the organic material from the OJP tuff. This was conducted on untreated material and after hydrouspyrolysis, a process that simulated the physical and thermal decomposition of organic material thatoccurs during late diagenesis. The characteristics of the organic material in the OJP tuff matched the productsof hydrous-pyrolysed chitin. This result suggested that OJP tuff contained organic material that couldhave been derived from fossilised chitin, implying that the OJP tuff potentially contained the remnants of amicrobial community with a fungal component.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Purvis G, Sano N, van der Land C, Barlow A, Cumpson P, Gray N, Lopez-Capel E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemical Geology

Year: 2021

Volume: 565

Print publication date: 30/03/2021

Online publication date: 29/01/2021

Acceptance date: 18/01/2020

ISSN (electronic): 0009-2541

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2021.120078


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