Linking diagenetic alteration of amino acids and bulk organic matter reactivity

Dauwe, Birgit, Jack J. Middelburg, Peter M. J. Herman, Carlo H. R. Heip

Limnol. Oceanogr., 44(7), 1999, 1809-1814 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.1999.44.7.1809

ABSTRACT: Examination of amino acids in particulate samples from a variety of marine environments (fresh phytoplankton to deep-sea sediments) revealed systematic compositional changes upon progressive degradation. These consistent trends have been used to derive a quantitative degradation index (DI) that is directly related to the reactivity of the organic material, as indicated by its lability to enzymatic decay and its first-order degradation rate constant. This direct link between molecular composition and degradation rate allows us to quantify the quality of organic matter based solely on its chemical composition.

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