Sedimentary steryl chlorin esters (SCEs) and other photosynthetic pigments as indicators of paleolimnological change over the last 28,000 years from the Buguldeika saddle of Lake Baikal

Yuko Soma, Yukinori Tani, Mitsuyuki Soma, Hideo Mitake, Ryo Kurihara, Shinya Hashomoto, Takahiro Watanabe, Toshio Nakamura

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Detailed depth profiles of photosynthetic pigments in a sediment core (G-12) collected at the BDP93 site, the Buguldeika saddle, of south Lake Baikal, along with depth profiles of total organic carbon (TOC) and biogenic silica, were studied to elucidate the temporal changes of phytoplankton assemblages in the lake during the past 28 kyr. In addition to the quantification of carotenoids by high-performance liquid chromatography with photodiode-array detection (HPLC-PDA), steryl chlorin esters (SCEs) were analyzed by HPLC-PDA, HPLC-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and sterols in SCEs by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to enrich the taxonomical information on the phytoplankton composition. Allochthonous input of organic matter from the Selenga River resulted in the higher TOC contents in core G-12 than in a previously reported core (G-6) collected at another site from the southern basin. The poorer correlation in core G-12 than in G-6 between TOC and chlorophyll-a-originating pigments, which are indicative of autochthonous production, also indicated a significant allochthonous input at the site. The abundance of lutein among the carotenoids detected, and the good correlation of total chlorophyll a and b shows that green algae represented a significant portion of the phytoplankton, accompanying the diatoms at the G-12 site, after the last glacial period. The presence of cryptomonads and cyanobacteria were confirmed from marker carotenoids in the sediment core. GC-MS analysis of sterols in SCEs detected marker sterols of diatoms, green algae, chrysophytes and dinoflagellates. The depth profiles of the measured indicators gave consistent features for temporal changes in phytoplankton assemblage at the G-12 site of Lake Baikal after the last glacial maximum. Notably, the profile of a chrysophyte-specific sterol in SCEs was consistent with the reported distribution of chrysophyte cysts during the Holocene. The presence of phytoplankton, such as green algae, diatoms and chrysophytes, in Lake Baikal during the late last glacial period was indicated by the analysis of sterols in SCEs. Sedimentary carotenoids and sterols in SCEs were found to give complementary information about phytoplankton composition. These molecular indicators allow us to reconstruct past lake phytoplankton assemblages responding to environmental changes with a time resolution as high as age-depth relationship in sediments attainable at present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-175
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Feb


  • Lake Baikal
  • Photosynthetic pigments
  • Phytoplankton
  • Sediment
  • Sterols
  • Steryl chlorin esters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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