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Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems$
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Thomas S. Bianchi and Elizabeth A. Canuel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691134147

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691134147.001.0001

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Lipids: Alkenones, Polar Lipids, and Ether Lipids

Lipids: Alkenones, Polar Lipids, and Ether Lipids

Chapter:
(p.207) 11. Lipids: Alkenones, Polar Lipids, and Ether Lipids
Source:
Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems
Author(s):

Thomas S. Bianchi

Elizabeth A. Canuel

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691134147.003.0011

This chapter focuses on several classes of polar lipids, including alkenones, which are di-, tri-, and tetra-unsaturated long-chain ketones. These compounds are produced by a restricted number of species of prymnesiophyte algae (coccolithophorid alga Emiliania huxleyi), living over a wide temperature range. Prymnesiophytes are able to live under different temperature regimes because they are able to regulate the degree of unsaturation of these compounds; as ambient water temperature decreases, unsaturation increases. Long-chain ketones are more stable than most unsaturated lipids and can survive diagenesis. Because of these properties, alkenones have been used widely as paleothermometers. Paleoclimate studies of continental environments have been hampered by the lack of a useful temperature proxy. Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) occur ubiquitously, including sites where alkenones are not produced due to the absence/low abundance of alkenone-producing algae. The TEX86 index, based on the number of cyclopentane rings in the GDGTs, provides a useful paleotemperature index for lakes and other sites where alkenones are not produced. The analysis of intact polar molecules is also becoming more widespread with the advent of liquid chromatography mass spectrometry techniques.

Keywords:   polar lipids, long-chain ketones, biomarkers, prymnesiophyte algae, alkenones

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