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Title: Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay

Abstract

Fossils entombed in amber are a unique resource for reconstructing forest ecosystems, and resolving relationships of modern taxa. Such fossils are famous for their perfect, life-like appearance. However, preservation quality is vast with many sites showing only cuticular preservation, or no fossils. The taphonomic processes that control this range are largely unknown; as such, we know little about potential bias in this important record. Here we employ actualistic experiments, using, fruit flies and modern tree resin to determine whether resin type, gut microbiota, and dehydration prior to entombment affects decay. We used solid phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME GC-MS) to confirm distinct tree resin chemistry; gut microbiota of flies was modified using antibiotics and categorized though sequencing. Decay was assessed using phase contrast synchrotron tomography. Resin type demonstrates a significant control on decay rate. The composition of the gut microbiota was also influential, with minor changes in composition affecting decay rate. Dehydration prior to entombment, contrary to expectations, enhanced decay. Our analyses show that there is potential significant bias in the amber fossil record, especially between sites with different resin types where ecological completeness and preservational fidelity are likely affected.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [4];  [5]
  1. Univ. of Leicester (United Kingdom); Univ. of Bonn (Germany)
  2. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  3. Univ. of Leicester (United Kingdom); John Moores Univ., Liverpool (United Kingdom)
  4. Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  5. Univ. of Leicester (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
OSTI Identifier:
1473585
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
PLoS ONE
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 13; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

McCoy, Victoria E., Soriano, Carmen, Pegoraro, Mirko, Luo, Ting, Boom, Arnoud, Foxman, Betsy, and Gabbott, Sarah E. Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0195482.
McCoy, Victoria E., Soriano, Carmen, Pegoraro, Mirko, Luo, Ting, Boom, Arnoud, Foxman, Betsy, & Gabbott, Sarah E. Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay. United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0195482.
McCoy, Victoria E., Soriano, Carmen, Pegoraro, Mirko, Luo, Ting, Boom, Arnoud, Foxman, Betsy, and Gabbott, Sarah E. Thu . "Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay". United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0195482. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1473585.
@article{osti_1473585,
title = {Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay},
author = {McCoy, Victoria E. and Soriano, Carmen and Pegoraro, Mirko and Luo, Ting and Boom, Arnoud and Foxman, Betsy and Gabbott, Sarah E.},
abstractNote = {Fossils entombed in amber are a unique resource for reconstructing forest ecosystems, and resolving relationships of modern taxa. Such fossils are famous for their perfect, life-like appearance. However, preservation quality is vast with many sites showing only cuticular preservation, or no fossils. The taphonomic processes that control this range are largely unknown; as such, we know little about potential bias in this important record. Here we employ actualistic experiments, using, fruit flies and modern tree resin to determine whether resin type, gut microbiota, and dehydration prior to entombment affects decay. We used solid phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME GC-MS) to confirm distinct tree resin chemistry; gut microbiota of flies was modified using antibiotics and categorized though sequencing. Decay was assessed using phase contrast synchrotron tomography. Resin type demonstrates a significant control on decay rate. The composition of the gut microbiota was also influential, with minor changes in composition affecting decay rate. Dehydration prior to entombment, contrary to expectations, enhanced decay. Our analyses show that there is potential significant bias in the amber fossil record, especially between sites with different resin types where ecological completeness and preservational fidelity are likely affected.},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0195482},
journal = {PLoS ONE},
number = 4,
volume = 13,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {4}
}

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Works referenced in this record:

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Taxonomic and Chemical Relationships Revealed by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectra of Plant Exudates
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Wolbachia and Virus Protection in Insects
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Chemical Composition, Antimicrobial and Antioxidative Activity of Laurel, Sage, Rosemary, Oregano and Coriander Essential Oils
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Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from Tunisian aromatic plants
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Transient adult microbiota, gut homeostasis and longevity: Novel insights from the Drosophila model
journal, June 2014


Entrapment Bias of Arthropods in Miocene Amber Revealed by Trapping Experiments in a Tropical Forest in Chiapas, Mexico
journal, March 2015


Exceptional Preservation of Dipteran Flight Muscle and the Taphonomy of Insects in Amber
journal, April 1992


Headspace solid phase microextraction for screening for the presence of resins in Egyptian archaeological samples
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Molecular composition and chemotaxonomic aspects of Eocene amber from the Ameki Formation, Nigeria
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journal, February 2000


Fossiliferous amber deposits from the Cretaceous (Albian) of Spain
journal, January 2007


Synchrotron X-ray imaging of inclusions in amber
journal, September 2010


The First Ant-Termite Syninclusion in Amber with CT-Scan Analysis of Taphonomy
journal, August 2014


Examination of amber and related materials by NMR spectroscopy: NMR of amber
journal, August 2014

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Ultrastructure of 40-Million-Year-Old Insect Tissue
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Importance of Dominican Republic amber for determining taxonomic bias of fossil resin preservation—A case study of spiders
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Chemical preservation of plants and insects in natural resins
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The role of experiments in investigating the taphonomy of exceptional preservation
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Nmr Analysis of Amber in the Zubair Formation, Khafji Oilfield (Saudi Arabia - Kuwait): coal as an oil Source Rock?
journal, April 2004


UniFrac: a New Phylogenetic Method for Comparing Microbial Communities
journal, December 2005


    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Importance of Dominican Republic amber for determining taxonomic bias of fossil resin preservation—A case study of spiders
    journal, July 2005


    Headspace solid phase microextraction for screening for the presence of resins in Egyptian archaeological samples
    journal, February 2004

    • Hamm, Sandrine; Bleton, Jean; Tchapla, Alain
    • Journal of Separation Science, Vol. 27, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.1002/jssc.200301611

    Fossiliferous amber deposits from the Cretaceous (Albian) of Spain
    journal, January 2007


    A chemical investigation by headspace SPME and GC–MS of volatile and semi-volatile terpenes in various olibanum samples
    journal, June 2005


    The role of experiments in investigating the taphonomy of exceptional preservation
    journal, November 2015

    • Briggs, Derek E. G.; McMahon, Sean
    • Palaeontology, Vol. 59, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1111/pala.12219

    Molecular composition and chemotaxonomic aspects of Eocene amber from the Ameki Formation, Nigeria
    journal, October 2012


    Synchrotron X-ray imaging of inclusions in amber
    journal, September 2010


    Use of Ranks in One-Criterion Variance Analysis
    journal, December 1952


    Amber
    journal, October 2014


    Chemical preservation of plants and insects in natural resins
    journal, April 1998

    • Stankiewicz, B. A.; Poinar, H. N.; Briggs, D. E. G.
    • Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 265, Issue 1397
    • DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1998.0342

    Chemical Signatures of Fossilized Resins and Recent Plant Exudates
    journal, December 2008

    • Lambert, Joseph B.; Santiago-Blay, Jorge A.; Anderson, Ken B.
    • Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Vol. 47, Issue 50
    • DOI: 10.1002/anie.200705973

    T HE R OLE OF D ECAY AND M INERALIZATION IN THE P RESERVATION OF S OFT -B ODIED F OSSILS
    journal, May 2003


    Entrapment Bias of Arthropods in Miocene Amber Revealed by Trapping Experiments in a Tropical Forest in Chiapas, Mexico
    journal, March 2015


    Nmr Analysis of Amber in the Zubair Formation, Khafji Oilfield (Saudi Arabia - Kuwait): coal as an oil Source Rock?
    journal, April 2004


    Ultrastructure of 40-Million-Year-Old Insect Tissue
    journal, March 1982


    Exceptional Preservation of Dipteran Flight Muscle and the Taphonomy of Insects in Amber
    journal, April 1992


    Preservative qualities of recent and fossil resins: Electron micrograph studies on tissue preserved in Baltic amber
    journal, September 1985


    Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Characterization of Cretaceous Amber
    journal, August 1996


    Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from Tunisian aromatic plants
    journal, January 2003

    • Bouzouita, Nabiha; Kachouri, Faten; Hamdi, Moktar
    • Flavour and Fragrance Journal, Vol. 18, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1002/ffj.1200

    Fossil fish stomachs: A microenvironment for exceptional preservation
    journal, January 1992


    phyloseq: An R Package for Reproducible Interactive Analysis and Graphics of Microbiome Census Data
    journal, April 2013


    Examination of amber and related materials by NMR spectroscopy: NMR of amber
    journal, August 2014

    • Lambert, Joseph B.; Santiago-Blay, Jorge A.; Wu, Yuyang
    • Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, Vol. 53, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1002/mrc.4121

    Wolbachia and Virus Protection in Insects
    journal, October 2008


    Taxonomic and Chemical Relationships Revealed by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectra of Plant Exudates
    journal, May 2005

    • Lambert, Joseph B.; Wu, Yuyang; Santiago-Blay, Jorge A.
    • Journal of Natural Products, Vol. 68, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1021/np050005f

    A mathematical theory of communication
    journal, January 2001

    • Shannon, C. E.
    • ACM SIGMOBILE Mobile Computing and Communications Review, Vol. 5, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1145/584091.584093

    Chemical Composition, Antimicrobial and Antioxidative Activity of Laurel, Sage, Rosemary, Oregano and Coriander Essential Oils
    journal, November 1998

    • Baratta, M. Tiziana; Dorman, H. J. Damien; Deans, Stanley G.
    • Journal of Essential Oil Research, Vol. 10, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1080/10412905.1998.9700989

    Transient adult microbiota, gut homeostasis and longevity: Novel insights from the Drosophila model
    journal, June 2014


    Comparing amber fossil assemblages across the Cenozoic
    journal, December 2005


    Amber:  the Organic Gemstone
    journal, August 2002

    • Lambert, Joseph B.; Poinar, George O.
    • Accounts of Chemical Research, Vol. 35, Issue 8
    • DOI: 10.1021/ar0001970

    The First Ant-Termite Syninclusion in Amber with CT-Scan Analysis of Taphonomy
    journal, August 2014


    Antimicrobial agents from plants: antibacterial activity of plant volatile oils
    journal, February 2000