Pollen evidence has proven to be a powerful forensic tool to trace a suspect or item to a victim or a crime scene. This is possible because it is microscopic, abundant in nature, resistant to degradation and decay; it presents dispersal patterns that can be used to generate a 'fingerprint' within specific areas, and has illustrated a unique morphology that can be used to classify species. While the pollen grain morphology has been extensively used to characterize the specific species, not much has been investigated as pertains to the coating that surrounds the pollen grain aside from it being categorized as waste. This Master thesis focuses on the qualitative and quantitative determination of the elemental composition of this coating surrounding pollen via Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Two methodologies for sample preparation were compared: a complete digestion and analysis of (i) the entire pollen and (ii) the surrounding pollen coating alone removed from the pollen grain by Soxhlet extraction in ethanol. The goal was to discern the elemental composition of the coating and its specific elemental composition in comparison with the whole pollen grain. The results of both F-test and T-test performed for three pollen species indicated that, of the 19 elements investigated, B, Mg, Mn, K, Ti, and Cs resulted in significant differences between the whole grain and the coating alone; while Se, V, Pb, Cr, Al, and Zn can be recognized as being characteristic of the coating surrounding the pollen grain.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Voyer, Brandy, "Qualitative and Quantitative Elemental Composition Analysis of the Surrounding Pollen Coating via ICP-MS" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6071.