Stem wood of the Angiosperm Calluna vulgaris (Scotch heather), isolated at different depths from a selection of raised bog peat deposits, was chemically characterized using in-source pyrolysis mass spectrometry (Py-MS) and Curie-point pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS). Light microscopy was performed to relate mass spectrometric characteristics with anatomical features. Peatified wood samples, isolated from increasing depth show a gradual decrease in carbohydrate content. This decrease is anatomically reflected in a selective removal of secondary cell wall material from the fibre-tracheids and wood parenchyma. During prolonged peatification a selective removal of hemicellulose sugars is observed, while a part of the cellulose fraction is preserved. This highly resistant cellulose is mainly located in the secondary cell walls of the vessels. The lignin macromolecule is preserved, but a gradual decrease in syringyl to guaiacyl ratio (S/G) is observed during peatification. Because no increase in catechol and phenolic compounds is observed, we conclude that S/G shifts are due to the removal of syringyl-rich secondary cell wall material and the retention of guaiacyl-rich compound middle lamella. Small chemical changes in the lignin macromolecule involve shifts in oxygen substitutions on the aliphatic side chains of the methoxyphenolics and the occurrence of aromatic acids.

Org. Geochem.

van der Heijden, E., & Boon, J. J. (1994). A combined pyrolysis mass spectrometric and light microscopic study of peatified Calluna wood isolated from raised bog peat deposits. Org. Geochem., 22, 903–919.