Mono- and dihydroxyl glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraethers in marine sediments

Identification of both core and intact polar lipid forms

Xiao Lei Liu*, Julius S. Lipp, Jeffrey H. Simpson, Yu Shih Lin, Roger E. Summons, Kai Uwe Hinrichs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)


Hydroxylated glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (hydroxy-GDGTs) were detected in marine sediments of diverse depositional regimes and ages. Mass spectrometric evidence, complemented by information gleaned from two-dimensional (2D) 1H- 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy on minute quantities of target analyte isolated from marine sediment, allowed us to identify one major compound as a monohydroxy-GDGT with acyclic biphytanyl moieties (OH-GDGT-0). NMR spectroscopic and mass spectrometric data indicate the presence of a tertiary hydroxyl group suggesting the compounds are the tetraether analogues of the widespread hydroxylated archaeol derivatives that have received great attention in geochemical studies of the last two decades. Three other related compounds were assigned as acyclic dihydroxy-GDGT (2OH-GDGT-0) and monohydroxy-GDGT with one (OH-GDGT-1) and two cyclopentane rings (OH-GDGT-2). Based on the identification of hydroxy-GDGT core lipids, a group of previously reported unknown intact polar lipids (IPLs), including the ubiquitously distributed H341-GDGT (Lipp J. S. and Hinrichs K. -U. (2009) Structural diversity and fate of intact polar lipids in marine sediments. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 6816-6833), and its analogues were tentatively identified as glycosidic hydroxy-GDGTs. In addition to marine sediments, we also detected hydroxy-GDGTs in a culture of Methanothermococcus thermolithotrophicus. Given the previous finding of the putative polar precursor H341-GDGT in the planktonic marine crenarchaeon Nitrosopumilus maritimus, these compounds are synthesized by representatives of both cren- and euryarchaeota. The ubiquitous distribution and apparent substantial abundance of hydroxy-GDGT core lipids in marine sediments (up to 8% of total isoprenoid core GDGTs) point to their potential as proxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2012


Cite this