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    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    A simple method for taxon-specific purification of diatom frustules from ocean sediments using a cell sorter

    Yuji Kato, Yuki Morono, Akira Ijiri, Takeshi Terada, Minoru Ikehara

    Diatom, Cell sorter, Microfossil, Sediment, Southern Ocean, International Ocean Discovery, Program

    Schematic illustration of the taxon-specific purification of diatom frustules using a cell sorter. By focusing on both optical signals reflecting morphological differences among diatom taxa and taxon-specific differences in fluorescence intensity emitted by diatom frustules, it is possible to purify only diatom frustules with desired optical characteristics.

    It is necessary to purify diatom frustules by taxon to perform accurate geochemical analyses of diatom fossils preserved in sediments. However, the small size of diatoms has hitherto prevented taxon-specific purification; therefore, previous geochemical analyses of diatom frustules have been performed with mixtures of various taxa. In this study, we developed a taxon-selective collection method of diatom fossils that uses a cell sorter. The experimental material comprised six samples from a sediment core of Hole U1538A in the Scotia Sea, Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean drilled during the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 382. Following conventional pretreatments (removal of organic matter and carbonates as well as clay minerals), we conducted cell sorter experiments focusing on the optical and fluorescence characteristics of the diatom fossils. We succeeded in selectively isolating with high purity five diatom taxa representing the Southern Ocean diatom flora: (1) discoid diatoms (mainly Thalassiosira) with a moderate degree of fluorescence; (2) Fragilariopsis (mainly Fragilariopsis kerguelensis), which exhibits the highest fluorescence values; (3) Rhizosolenia; (4) Eucampia antarctica; and (5) needle-shaped diatoms (Thalassiothrix). This taxon-specific diatom purification method will enable more accurate geochemical analyses, such as the oxygen isotope ratio (δ18O) of diatom frustules, which is likely to lead to significant advances in paleoceanography, especially at high latitudes or in upwelling zones where diatoms are abundant. This method will also be useful in paleolimnology, ocean biology, and phycology.