Spectroscopy in ecology and botany

Pollen and spores are the reproductive structures (microorganisms) of plants and fungi, and thus have key function during plant and fungal life cycles. Identification of pollen and spores provides useful information in various fields, for instance in public health for allergy forecasts, in ecology for monitoring of life cycles of vegetation and mycobiota, and in forensics for temporal and spatial determination of a criminal event. Unfortunately, current studies are still confined to visual measurements of pollen and spore morphologies under a microscope and the research has remained basically unchanged over the last hundred years. The identification requires laborious visual recognition of bioparticles by a skilled microscopist with specific knowledge of pollen and spore morphology.

Male cones with pollen of Mediterranean cypress (left) and Greek fir (right). The corresponding FTIR spectra of pollen (middle); the marked vibrational bands are associated with lipids (L), proteins (P), sporopollenins (S) and carbohydrates (C).

Male cones with pollen of Mediterranean cypress (left) and Greek fir (right). The corresponding FTIR spectra of pollen (middle); the marked vibrational bands are associated with lipids (L), proteins (P), sporopollenins (S) and carbohydrates (C).

Boris Zimmermann

Recently infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopies have attracted attention as a methods for characterisation of plants and fungi. As opposed to morphological characterisation with microscopy, these two vibrational spectroscopies offer an operator-independent approach based on chemical characterisation via identifiable spectral features. Roughly, a spectrum of a microorganism contains specific signatures of the constituent biomolecules, such as lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and grain wall biopolymers (sporopollenins, cellulose and chitin). These chemicals are the principal structural and nutritious components of microorganisms, and they are responsible for the majority of phenotypic attributes. Since the corresponding spectral signals of these chemicals are highly specific, vibrational spectroscopy is an excellent tool for biochemical analysis of plants and fungi. 



Plant Phenotyping by Vibrational Spectroscopy of Pollen
European Commission, Research Executive Agency (FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF, project Nº. 328289)

Phenotyping of flora of Svalbard by vibrational spectroscopy of pollen and seeds
Svalbard Science Forum (AFG project Nº. 246125, RiS 10113)

Combined FTIR and Raman analysis of pollen composition for studying plant adaptation to environmental changes
Research Council of Norway (DAADppp mobility grants, project Nº. 233941)

Pollen Chemistry as the Next Generation Tool in Palaeoecological Research – Theory, Methods and Applications
Research Council of Norway (FRIMEDBIO, project Nº. 249844)



Diehn S., Zimmermann B., Tafintseva V., Bağcıoğlu M., Kohler A., Ohlson M., Fjellheim S., Kneipp J.
Discrimination of grass pollen of different species by FTIR spectroscopy of individual pollen grains.
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2020)

Diehn S., Zimmermann S., Tafintseva V., Seifert S., Bagcioglu M., Ohlson M., Weidner S., Fjellheim S., Kohler A., Kneipp J.
Combining chemical information from grass pollen in multimodal characterization.
Frontiers in Plant Science 10 (2020) 1788

Muthreich F., Zimmermann B., Birks H.J.B., Vila‐Viçosa C.M., Seddon A.W.R.
Chemical variations in Quercus pollen as a tool for taxonomic identification: Implications for long‐term ecological and biogeographical research.
Journal of Biogeography (2020)

Kenđel A., Zimmermann B.
Chemical Analysis of Pollen by FT-Raman and FTIR Spectroscopies.
Frontiers in Plant Science 11 (2020) 352

Seddon A.W.R., Festi D., Robson T.M., Zimmermann B.
Fossil pollen and spores as a tool for reconstructing ancient solar-ultraviolet irradiance received by plants: an assessment of prospects and challenges using proxy-system modelling.
Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences 18 (2019) 275.

Innes S.N., Arve L.E., Zimmermann B., Nybakken L., Melby T.I., Solhaug K.A., Olsen J.E., Torre S.
Elevated air humidity increases UV mediated leaf and DNA damage in pea (Pisum sativum) due to reduced flavonoid content and antioxidant power
Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences 18 (2019) 387.

Diehn S., Zimmermann B., Bağcıoğlu M., Seifert S., Kohler A., Ohlson M., Fjellheim S., Weidner S., Kneipp J.
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) shows adaptation of grass pollen composition.
Scientific Reports 8 (2018) 16591.

Blümel R., Lukacs R., Zimmermann B., Bağcıoğlu M., Kohler A.
Observation of Mie ripples in the synchrotron FTIR spectra of spheroidal pollen grains.
Journal of the Optical Society of America A 35 (2018) 1769.

Zimmermann B. 
Chemical characterization and identification of Pinaceae pollen by infrared microspectroscopy.
Planta 247 (2018) 171.

Zimmermann B., Bağcıoğlu M., Tafinstseva V., Kohler A., Ohlson M., Fjellheim S.
A high-throughput FTIR spectroscopy approach to assess adaptive variation in pollen quality.
Ecology and Evolution 7 (2017) 10839.

Bağcıoğlu M., Kohler A., Seifert S., Kneipp J., Zimmermann B.
Monitoring of plant-environment interactions by high throughput FTIR spectroscopy of pollen.
Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8 (2017) 870.

Zimmermann B., Tafintseva V., Bağcıoğlu M., Høegh Berdahl M., Kohler A.
Analysis of allergenic pollen by FTIR microspectroscopy.
Analytical Chemistry 88 (2016) 803.

Bağcıoğlu M., Zimmermann B., Kohler A.
A multiscale vibrational spectroscopic approach for identification and biochemical characterization of pollen
PLOS One 10 (2015) e0137899.

Zimmermann B., Bağcıoğlu M., Sandt C., Kohler A.
Vibrational microspectroscopy enables chemical characterization of single pollen grains as well as comparative analysis of plant species based on pollen ultrastructure.
Planta 242 (2015) 1237.

Zimmermann B., Tkalčec Z., Mešić A., Kohler A.
Characterizing aeroallergens by infrared spectroscopy of fungal spores and pollen.
PLOS One 10 (2015) e0124240.

Lukacs R., Blümel R., Zimmermann B., Bağcıoğlu M., Kohler A.
Recovery of absorbance spectra of micrometer-sized biological and inanimate particles.
Analyst 140 (2015) 3273-3284

Zimmermann B., Kohler A.
Infrared spectroscopy of pollen identifies plant species and genus as well as environmental conditions.
PLOS One 9 (2014) e95417.

Zimmermann B.
Characterization of pollen by vibrational spectroscopy.
Applied Spectroscopy 64 (2010) 1364.

Published 15. February 2016 - 14:13 - Updated 8. September 2020 - 12:22