Proxy comparison in ancient peat sediments: Pollen, macrofossil and plant DNA

Laura Parducci, Minna Väliranta, J. Sakari Salonen, Tiina Ronkainen, Irina Matetovici, Sonia L. Fontana, Tiina Eskola, Pertti Sarala, Yoshihisa Suyama

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    43 Citations (Scopus)


    We compared DNA, pollen and macrofossil data obtained from Weichselian interstadial (age more than 40 kyr) and Holocene (maximum age 8400 cal yr BP) peat sediments from northern Europe and used them to reconstruct contemporary floristic compositions at two sites. The majority of the samples provided plant DNA sequences of good quality with success amplification rates depending on age. DNA and sequencing analysis provided five plant taxa from the older site and nine taxa from the younger site, corresponding to 7% and 15%of the total number of taxa identified by the three proxies together. At both sites, pollen analysis detected the largest (54) and DNA the lowest (10) number of taxa, but five of theDNAtaxawere not detectedbypollenandmacrofossils. The finding of a larger overlap between DNA and pollen than between DNA and macrofossils proxies seems to go against our previous suggestion based on lacustrine sediments that DNA originates principally from plant tissues and less from pollen. At both sites, we also detected Quercus spp. DNA, but few pollen grains were found in the record, and these are normally interpreted as long-distance dispersal. We confirm that in palaeoecological investigations, sedimentary DNA analysis is less comprehensive than classical morphological analysis, but is a complementary and important tool to obtain a more complete picture of past flora.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1660
    Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 19


    • Ancient DNA
    • Barcoding
    • Holocene
    • Plant macrofossils
    • Pollen
    • Weichselian interstadial

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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