Macromolecules in brachiopod shells: characterization and diagenesis

Collins, M., Muyzer, G., Curry, G.B., Sandberg, P. and Westbroek, P. (1991) Macromolecules in brachiopod shells: characterization and diagenesis. Lethaia, 24(4), pp. 387-397. (doi: 10.1111/j.1502-3931.1991.tb01491.x)

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An immunological investigation was conducted of soluble intra-crystalline macromolecules isolated from living and fossil brachiopod shells, which had previously been used for an immunologically based study of phylogeny (serotaxonomy). The soluble intra-crystalline macromolecules comprised 0.03% by weight of the extant shell material. Bulk analysis and gel electrophoresis indicated that the organic material is predominantly glycoprotein, and contains up to 30% by weight carbohydrate. Treatment of the macromolecules with periodate and proteinase K revealed that antibodies were raised predominantly against the carbohydrate moieties. Using a specially adapted dot blot immunobinding assay (DIBA) the decay in immunological signal over geological time was determined. Pleistocene shells have lost between 99 and 99.9% of immunological reactivity, and original antigenic determinants form a declining proportion of total organic matter. It is suggested that condensation reactions between amino acids and sugars account for the rapid destruction of determinants; this has important implications for the direction of future studies on fossil macromolecules

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Curry, Professor Gordon
Authors: Collins, M., Muyzer, G., Curry, G.B., Sandberg, P., and Westbroek, P.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Lethaia
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1502-3931
Published Online:09 October 2007

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