Fluorescent dissolved organic matter in lakes: Relationships with heterotrophic metabolism

Cammack, W. K. Levi, Jacob Kalff, Yves T. Prairie, Erik M. Smith

Limnol. Oceanogr., 49(6), 2004, 2034-2045 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2004.49.6.2034

ABSTRACT: Characterizing dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition remains a major unresolved problem in aquatic ecology and is one of the key impediments to developing a good understanding of DOM production and consumption by heterotrophic bacteria. Fluorescence spectroscopy has been proposed as a promising method for characterizing DOM, but few links have been demonstrated between DOM fluorescence and DOM composition or the processes affected by DOM composition. In 28 southern Que┬┤bec lakes, tryptophan-like DOM fluorescence (TFDOM) was found to be a much better descriptor of rates of heterotrophic bacterial metabolism than dissolved organic carbon, describing 52%, 44%, 51%, and 55% of the variability in bacterial production, bacterioplankton respiration, total bacterial carbon consumption, and total plankton community respiration, respectively. In addition, evidence from a series of bacterial regrowth cultures suggests that T-FDOM represents a product of bacterial activity as well as, to a lesser extent, a bioavailable substrate. Our results instead raise the intriguing possibility that TFDOM concentration reflects a balance between its production and consumption by bacteria. We demonstrate here that fluorescence spectroscopy can be used to identify a highly dynamic fraction of DOM related to bacterial metabolism in lakes.

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