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Steranes, Hopanes and Terpenes

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Common steranes, hopanes and other polycyclic terpanes in the molecular fossil record and their paleobiological interpretation
BiomarkerBiological and/or environmental interpretationReferences
C30-hopanesdiverse bacterial lineages, few eukaryotic species (e.g. some cryptogams, ferns, mosses, lichens, filamentous fungi, protists)Rohmer et al., 1984
extended C31 to C35 hopanes (a.k.a. homohopanes)diagnostic for Bacteria, biosynthesis appears to be restricted to lineages that are not strictly anaerobic (with a possible exception (Thiel et al., 2003)Ourisson and Albrecht, 1992, Rohmer et al., 1984
extended C32 to C36 2a-methylhopanesdiagnostic for cyanobacteria and prochlorophytesBisseret et al., 1985, Summons et al., 1999
extended C32 to C36 3b-methylhopanesdiagnostic for some microaerophilic proteobacteria (certain methylotrophs, methanotrophs, acetic acid bacteria)Zundel and Rohmer, 1985a, Zundel and Rohmer, 1985b, Zundel and Rohmer, 1985c, Summons and Jahnke, 1992
28,30-dinorhopane, 25,28,30-trinorhopane (TNH)often prominent in sediments from euxinic environmentsGrantham et al., 1980, Peters and Moldowan, 1993
24-norcholestane (C26)possible diatom origin, high concentrations relative to 27-norcholestane indicate Cretaceous or younger crude oilHolba et al., 1998a, Holba et al., 1998b
Cholestanein aquatic sources probably almost exclusively derived from diverse eukaryotesVolkman, 2003
in organic matter from terrestrial sources (e.g. paleosols) input from soil bacteria of the order Mxyococcales conceivableBode et al., 2003, Kohl et al., 1983
Ergostane, stigmastaneexclusively eukaryotic, but usually no distinct sources discernibleVolkman, 2003
24-n-propylcholestanepelagophyte algae, a biomarker for marine conditions with few exceptionsMoldowan et al., 1990
24-isopropylcholestanesponges and possibly the sponge-related stromatoporoidsMcCaffrey et al., 1994b
2- and 3-alkylsteranesubiquitous in bitumens of all ages, possibly heterotrophic alteration products of sedimentary steroidsSummons and Capon, 1991
4-Methycholestane and 4,4-dimethylcholestanediverse eukaryotic sources, high concentrations likely indicate a dinoflagellates originSummons et al., 1994a
if strongly depleted in 13C indicative for methylotrophic bacteria (Methylococcaceae)Volkman, 2003
4-methylergostane, 4-methylstigmastanediverse eukaryotic sources, high concentrations likely indicate a dinoflagellate originVolkman, 2003
Dinosteranein the Mesozoic and Cenozoic specific for dinoflagellates (with possible minor diatom contribution), in Paleozoic and Neoproterozoic samples probably derived from protodinoflagellatesMoldowan and Talyzina, 1998, Robinson et al., 1984, Volkman et al., 1993

>>Biomarker classification


>>>>Acetogenic lipids


>>>>Acyclic and cyclic isoprenoids

>>>>Polycyclic isoprenoids






>>>Diagenesis and catagenesis

>>Biomarker as Source Indicator

>>>Steranes, hopanes etc


>>>Environmental Indicators

>>>Indicators of Euxinia

>>Experimental methods to extract biomarkers

>>>Source rock