Early Diagenesis of Plant Pigments in Hudson River Sediments


Plant pigment concentrations were measured using high performance liquid chromatography in Hudson River sediments. Sedimentation rates and mixing characteristics were determined from depth profiles of the naturally occurring radionuclides 7Be, 210Pb. Previous estimates of the mean-lives (1/λ) of plant pigments (chlorophylls a and b, fucoxanthin) from laboratory experiments, indicate a range of c. 20-40 days. However, in the field, we observed that these pigments decreased less rapidly with depth and penetrated deeper than 7Be (mean-life 77 days) in Hudson sediments 95% of the time. Assuming similar mixing processes for particles carrying 7Be and pigments, this indicates that pigment decay rates in the field are slower than the 0·013 day-1 decay rate of 7Be, hence, more than 2-fold slower than the derived laboratory rates. We believe that high inputs of vascular plant detritus in the Hudson may increase the complexation of humic substances with pigments resulting in slower decay rates. While most pigments showed an exponential decrease with sediment depth, lutein concentrations generally increased with depth. This pattern of decay resistance is in agreement with laboratory experiments which show that lutein is the most decay resistant among dominant pigments. These data along with other studies demonstrate that the carotenoids lacking the 5,6-epoxide group (i.e., lutein) are more decay resistant than pigments that contain it (i.e., fucoxanthin). © 1993 Academic Press. All rights reserved.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science



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Copyright © 1993 Academic Press. All rights reserved.