MEPS 194:1-11 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps194001

Retention of lignin in seagrasses: angiosperms that returned to the sea

Vincent A. Klap1,2,*, Marten A. Hemminga2, Jaap J. Boon1

1FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics, Kruislaan 407, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre of Estuarine and Coastal Ecology, Korringaweg 7, 4401 NT Yerseke, The Netherlands
*Address for correspondence: Netherlands Institute of Ecology. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Using Curie-point Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (Py-GCMS) and Direct Temperature-resolved Mass Spectrometry (DT-MS), lignin was detected in highly purified preparations (Milled Wood Lignin = MWL) of various tissues of the seagrasses Zostera marina and Posidonia oceanica. The results indicate that P. oceanica contains more lignin than Z. marina and that roots and rhizomes generally contain more lignin than leaves. It is concluded that the ability to produce lignin is not lost by the angiosperm ancestors of extant seagrasses upon their colonization of the marine environment. Relative lignin abundances in the different tissues appear to be positively correlated with life span. It is suggested that lignification contributes to the longevity of a tissue by protecting it against microbial attack, but that deposition of lignin in seagrasses is restricted to tissues that show limited growth.

KEY WORDS: Lignin · Seagrass · Pathogenic resistance · Pyrolysis · Gas chromatography · Mass spectrometry

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