Pollen taxon in sediment samples can be identified by analyzing pollen morphology. Identification of related species based on pollen morphology is difficult and is limited primarily to genus or family. Because pollen grains of various ages are preserved at below 0 °C in glaciers and thus are more likely to remain intact or to suffer little DNA fragmentation, genetic information from such pollen grains should enable identification of plant taxa below the genus level. However, no published studies have attempted detailed identification using DNA sequences obtained from pollen found in glaciers. As a preliminary step, this study attempted to analyze the DNA of Pinus pollen grains extracted from surface snow collected from the Belukha glacier in the Altai Mountains of Russia in the summer of 2003. A 150-bp rpoB fragment from the chloroplast genome in each Pinus pollen grain was amplified by polymerase chain reaction, and DNA products were sequenced to identify them at the section level. A total of 105 pollen grains were used for the test, and sequences were obtained from eight grains. From the sequences obtained, the pollen grains were identified as belonging to the section Quinquefoliae. Trees of the extant species Pinus sibirica in the section Quinquefoliae are currently found surrounding the glacier. The consistency of results for this section suggests that the pollen in the glacier originated from the same Pinus trees as those found in the immediate surroundings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas