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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Darren R. Gröcke

Cormier, Marc-André, Werner, Roland A., Sauer, Peter E., Gröcke, Darren R., Leuenberger, Markus C., Wieloch, Thomas, Schleucher, Jürgen & Kahmen, Ansgar (2018). 2H‐fractionations during the biosynthesis of carbohydrates and lipids imprint a metabolic signal on the δ2H values of plant organic compounds. New Phytologist 218(2): 479-491.

Author(s) from Durham


Hydrogen (H) isotope ratio (δ2H) analyses of plant organic compounds have been applied to assess ecohydrological processes in the environment despite a large part of the δ2H variability observed in plant compounds not being fully elucidated.
We present a conceptual biochemical model based on empirical H isotope data that we generated in two complementary experiments that clarifies a large part of the unexplained variability in the δ2H values of plant organic compounds.
The experiments demonstrate that information recorded in the δ2H values of plant organic compounds goes beyond hydrological signals and can also contain important information on the carbon and energy metabolism of plants. Our model explains where 2H‐fractionations occur in the biosynthesis of plant organic compounds and how these 2H‐fractionations are tightly coupled to a plant's carbon and energy metabolism. Our model also provides a mechanistic basis to introduce H isotopes in plant organic compounds as a new metabolic proxy for the carbon and energy metabolism of plants and ecosystems.
Such a new metabolic proxy has the potential to be applied in a broad range of disciplines, including plant and ecosystem physiology, biogeochemistry and palaeoecology.