Insoluble prokaryotic membrane lipids in a Sphagnum peat: Implications for organic matter preservation

Lidia Chaves Torres*, Richard D. Pancost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Preservation of organic matter (OM) in the geosphere has a direct impact on carbon bioavailability, the carbon cycle and the formation of fossil fuels. We have examined some of the processes that lead to the preservation of OM by characterising insoluble OM in a Sphagnum peat bog. We focussed on the partitioning of prokaryotic biomarkers between solvent-extractable and insoluble OM fractions and how that partitioning changed with depth. The insoluble organic matter (IOM) was examined using stepwise chemical degradation involving base and acid hydrolysis. Iso- and anteiso-C15 and C17 fatty acids (FAs), hopanoic acid and bishomohopanol, and branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) - diagnostic for Bacteria - were targeted as well as archaeol and isoprenoidal GDGTs - diagnostic for Archaea. High percentages of these compounds - up to 65% - occur in IOM pools, indicating that archaeal- and bacterially derived OM is prone to insolubilization even in shallow sediments (

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-91
Number of pages15
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Early online date6 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Archaeol
  • Branched fatty acids
  • Early diagenesis
  • GDGTs
  • Selective chemical degradation


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