Molecular proxies for studying biogeochemical changes in the environment
Convener: Klaas G.J. Nierop  | Co-Conveners: Boris Jansen , Ian Bull , Claudio Zaccone , Teodoro Miano , Luca Bragazza 
Oral Programme
 / Mon, 04 Apr, 08:30–12:00  / Room 9
Poster Programme
 / Attendance Mon, 04 Apr, 17:30–19:00  / Display Mon, 04 Apr, 08:00–19:30  / Hall Z

This session will be devoted to the molecular characterization (including isotopic analysis) of organic matter as proxy of changes in the environment.

Relevant topics include:

- Reconstructions of paleo-environment and –climate
- Assessment of human impact on our environment (e.g., archeology, land use change, elevated atmospheric CO2, black carbon)
- Organic matter dynamics (i.e. transformation, diagenesis, humification, preservation, sequestration and transport) and their possible effects on organic proxies
- Development of new molecular proxies or new applications of existing ones
- Proxies for/of microbial processes and communities (e.g., (ancient) DNA, PLFA’s)

All organisms contain unique combinations of organic compounds and as such, each may provide a unique input of organic matter into soils and lacustrine/marine sediments both during the lifetime of the organism and after its demise. Whilst, under normal environmental conditions, a large proportion of this organic matter is rapidly degraded, a significant proportion of more persistent organic molecular and macromolecular components remain extant within the depositional environment.
When organic molecules deposited into soils or sediments persist, either wholly or as a recognizable transformation product, they can serve as molecular proxies (or biomarkers) for identifying previous inputs of organic matter and various biogeochemical processes stimulated by such inputs.
Furthermore, such biomarkers may serve as an aid to reconstructions of paleo-vegetation and -climate and/or archaeological activities/land-use, although some processes (i.e., diagenesis, humification, selective preservation) may affect their 'reliability'. At the same time the biogeochemical transformation of organic molecules helps elucidate past and present environmental conditions. All lines of research mentioned here share a common root in that they require a detailed characterization of organic matter inputs and the transformation products of such inputs at the molecular level. This session aims to provide a platform for research, which is both fundamental and applied, investigating any of the above themes but focusing on studies concerning discrete biomolecular components.