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Title: A comparative ToF-SIMS and GC—MS analysis of phototrophic communities collected from an alkaline silica-depositing hot spring

One of few techniques that is able to spatially resolve chemical data, including organic molecules, to morphological features in modern and ancient geological samples, is time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). The ability to connect chemical data to morphology is key for interpreting the biogenicity of preserved remains in ancient samples. However, due to the lack of reference data for geologically relevant samples and the ease with which samples can be contaminated, ToF-SIMS data may be difficult to interpret. In this project, we aimed to build a ToF-SIMS spectral database by performing parallel ToF-SIMS and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analyses of extant photosynthetic microbial communities collected from an alkaline silica-depositing hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, USA. We built the library by analyzing samples of increasing complexity: pure lipid standards commonly found in thermophilic phototrophs, solvent extracts of specific lipid fractions, total lipid extracts, pure cultures of dominant phototrophic community members, and unsilicified phototrophic streamer communities. The results showed that important lipids and pigments originating from phototrophs were detected by ToF-SIMS (e.g., wax esters, monogalactosyldiacylglycerol, digalactosyldiacylglycerol, sufloquinovosyldiaglycerol, alkanes, etc.) in the streamer lipid extracts. Many of the lipids were also detected in situ in the unsilicified streamer, and could evenmore » be spatially resolved to individual cells within the streamer community. Together with the ToF-SIMS database, this mapping ability will be used to further explore other microbial mats and their fossilized counterparts in the geological record. This is likely to expand the geochemical understanding of these types of samples.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. SP Technical Inst. of Sweden, Stockholm (Sweden); Carnegie Inst. of Washington, Washington, DC (United States). Geophysical Lab.
  2. NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA (United States)
  3. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC0576RL01830; NNX15BB01A; NNA16BB06I
Published Article
Journal Name:
Organic Geochemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 109; Journal ID: ISSN 0146-6380
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; Lipids; ToF-SIMS; Imaging mass spectrometry; Microbial streamers; Hot springs
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1364382