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Composition of planktonic foraminifera test-bound organic material and implications for carbon cycle reconstructions

Paoloni, Tommaso; Hoogakker, Babette; Navarro Rodriguez, Alba; Pereira, Ryan; McClymont, Erin L.; Jovane, Luigi; Magill, Clayton

Composition of planktonic foraminifera test-bound organic material and implications for carbon cycle reconstructions Thumbnail


Tommaso Paoloni

Babette Hoogakker

Alba Navarro Rodriguez

Ryan Pereira

Luigi Jovane

Clayton Magill


Introduction: Foraminiferal shells are extensively used to reconstruct the marine environment in the geological past. The foraminifera test-bound organic material (FBOM), sheltered by the test from potential diagenetic alteration and contamination, has great feasibility to improve our understanding of carbon and nitrogen cycling. The FBOM δ13C has been proposed as a proxy for reconstructing past environmental conditions. However, to fully exploit the proxy potential of FBOM, its molecular composition and the influence of the latter on the FBOM δ13C need to be assessed. Method: Here we use a novel combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, flame ionization detection (GC-MS/FID) and liquid chromatography organic carbon and nitrogen detection (LC-OCD/ OND) analyses to study the FBOM chemical composition. Results: Our results indicate that polysaccharides and proteins dominate FBOM, as proposed by earlier studies, with no evidence of detectable lipids (alkyl lipids, trimethylsilyl ethers of fatty alcohols, trimethylsilyl esters of fatty acids and steranes derivatives were targeted). Discussion: Previous studies suggested that FBOM δ13C may be used to reconstruct past atmospheric CO2 concentrations. However, our results indicate that the use of FBOM δ13C to reconstruct CO2 carries an approximate uncertainty of ±21 ppm for past atmospheric CO2 abundance. We suggest that FBOM δ13C can be used as a novel proxy to reconstruct particulate organic material (POM) δ13C. This is also supported by the recently confirmed minor fractionation between POM and FBOM δ13C.


Paoloni, T., Hoogakker, B., Navarro Rodriguez, A., Pereira, R., McClymont, E. L., Jovane, L., & Magill, C. (2023). Composition of planktonic foraminifera test-bound organic material and implications for carbon cycle reconstructions. Frontiers in Marine Science, 10, Article 1237440.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2023
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 25, 2023
Journal Frontiers in Marine Science
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Article Number 1237440
Keywords gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, lipids, organic matter, planktonic foraminfera, particulate organic matter proxy
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Copyright Statement
© 2023 Paoloni, Hoogakker, Navarro Rodriguez, Pereira, McClymont, Jovane and Magill. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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