Chemotaxonomical investigations of fossil and extant beeches. I. Leaf lipids from the extant Fagus sylvatica L.


en Comptes Rendus Palevol 6 (6-7) - Pages 451-461

Published on 30 November 2007

This article is a part of the thematic issue Palaeobotany and evolution of the plants' world: Some current problems

The chemistry of fossil plants can help in precising their taxonomic affinities as well as their taphonomic history. The lipids from mature leaves of Fagus sylvatica L. were thus characterised to identify the components potentially informative that might be preserved in fossil beeches. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analyses of the lipids revealed a complex mixture comprising more than 60 identified constituents, belonging to diverse chemical families (e.g., sterols, fatty lipids, acyclic isoprenoids, triterpenes, glycerols, esters). Although most of the identified components are reported here for the first time in the European beech, they predominantly correspond to rather common compounds in Angiosperms. Nevertheless, their co-occurrence may constitute a useful fingerprint in further chemotaxonomic investigations of beeches. The newly reported compounds also include degradation products of plant lipids and fungal markers, showing that these degradation markers are to be considered as molecules related to the leaves in further taphonomic studies.


Fagus sylvatica L., Fagaceae, Lipids, leaf, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, France

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