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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 21, 2014

Lignin distribution in waterlogged archaeological Picea abies (L.) Karst degraded by erosion bacteria

  • Nanna Bjerregaard Pedersen EMAIL logo , Uwe Schmitt , Gerald Koch , Claus Felby and Lisbeth Garbrecht Thygesen
From the journal Holzforschung


The lignin distribution in poles of waterlogged archaeological Picea abies (L.) Karst, which was decayed by erosion bacteria (EB) under anoxic conditions for approximately 400 years, was topochemically identified by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and high resolution UV-microspectrophotometry (UMSP). Lignin rich cell wall compartments such as cell corner (CC), compound middle lamella (CML), torus, initial pit border and mild compression wood (CW) appeared morphologically well preserved together with S1 and S3 layers and epithelial and ray parenchyma cells. Residual material (RM) from degraded S2 showed a varied lignin distribution as evidenced by the different local UV-absorbance intensities. However, evaluation of UV-absorbance line spectra of RM revealed no change in conjugation of the aromatic ring system. Presence of RM with both very low and very high lignin absorbances showed evidence for disassembly of lignin during degradation combined with aggregation of lignin fragments and physical movement of these fractions. In contrast to TEM analysis, locally decreasing lignin content was found by UMSP in CML regions.

Corresponding author: Nanna Bjerregaard Pedersen, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, e-mail:


Nanna Bjerregaard Pedersen thanks COST Action FP0802 for supporting the work as a Short Term Scientific Mission and the Thünen Institute of Wood Research, Hamburg, Germany for hosting the experiments. The authors acknowledge Tanja Potsch for skilful embedding and cutting of the sample material, Karin Brandt for technical assistance with the UV-microspectrophotometer and Joanna Nielsen for technical laboratory assistance. We thank the Museum of Copenhagen, Denmark for a donation of the test material.


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Received: 2013-11-28
Accepted: 2014-1-27
Published Online: 2014-2-21
Published in Print: 2014-10-1

©2014 by De Gruyter

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