Multiple environmental and ecological controls on archaeal ether lipid distributions in saline ponds

Jingjing Li, Richard D. Pancost, B. David A. Naafs, Huan Yang, Deng Liu, Linfeng Gong, Xuan Qiu, Shucheng Xie*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

10 Citations (Scopus)
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The distribution of archaeal ether lipids is thought to be governed by salinity in hypersaline and marine environments due to differences in their biological sources. However, little is known about their source and relationship with salinity in lacustrine environments. To explore this, we analyzed the distribution of specific archaeal lipids (isoprenoid GDGTs and diethers) of 11 ponds along a salinity gradient (0.8‰ to 279‰) in Inner Mongolia, NE China. Functional gene mcrA and compound-specific stable carbon isotope data were used to explore the biological source(s) of archaeal diether and tetraether lipids. Both lipid- and DNA-based methods showed methanogens to be abundant in ponds, which is consistent with the dominance of GDGT-0 relative to other isoprenoid GDGTs as well as the occurrence of archaeol (C20/C20 DGD), hydroxyarchaeol and the mcrA gene. However, the occurrence of the extended archaeol (C20/C25 DGD) also suggests the presence of Halobacteriales, non-halophilic methanogens and halophilic methanogens. This means that the biological sources of archaeal diethers and tetraethers are complicated. We subsequently evaluated the applicability of TEX86 temperature and ACE salinity proxies in these settings; however, due to the mixed sources of archaeal diethers and tetraethers, these proxies are not applicable in these ponds and it appears that salinity is not the dominant control on archaeal ether lipid distributions in these saline ponds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119293
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Geology
Early online date2 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2019


  • ACE
  • Archaeal diethers
  • isoGDGTs
  • mcrA gene
  • Saline ponds
  • TEX


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