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Algal and bacterial pigments in non-laminated lacustrine sediment: Studies of their sedimentation, degradation and stratigraphy

C.L.M. Steenbergen, H.J. Korthals, E.G. Dobrynin
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-6941.1994.tb00080.x 335-351 First published online: 1 March 1994


Natural phyto- and bacterioplankton populations of Lake Vechten (the Netherlands) were subjected to darkness under oxic and anoxic conditions at in situ temperatures in order to test the stability in time of their photosynthetic pigments. Furthermore, sedimentary fluxes and concentrations of pigments were estimated in (respectively) sediment trap catches and at the sediment-water interphase in order to measure the pigment breakdown upon burial into the sediment. The chlorophylls and most of the xanthophylls showed substantial losses of 20% to 60% in the incubation experiments as well as in the surficial sediment. β-Carotene, okenone and echinenone were most stable (2–10% losses); fucoxanthin and peridinin were degraded extensively; alloxanthin and zeaxanthin held an intermediate position as did the bacteriochlorophylls. Trends in sediment profiles of pigments were compared with limnological data obtained during the enhanced eutrophication of the lake. Evidence was provided that the β-carotene profile closely followed the increase of phytoplankton biomass. Although susceptible to substantial degradation, several profiles of pigments and of pigment ratios could be related in a qualitative way to biomass and to shifts in species composition which occurred as a result of the changing ecological conditions in the lake.

Key words
  • Chlorophyll a
  • Carotenoid
  • Bacteriochlorophyll
  • Pigment diagenesis
  • Palaeolimnology
  • Primary production
  • Biomass

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