Microbial metabolism mediates interactions between dissolved organic matter and clay minerals in streamwater

W. R. Hunter, T. J. Battin

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Sorption of organic molecules to mineral surfaces is an important control upon the aquatic carbon (C) cycle. Organo-mineral interactions are known to regulate the transport and burial of C within inland waters, yet the mechanisms that underlie these processes are poorly constrained. Streamwater contains a complex and dynamic mix of dissolved organic compounds that coexists with a range of organic and inorganic particles and microorganisms. To test how microbial metabolism and organo-mineral complexation alter amino acid and organic carbon fluxes we experimented with 13C-labelled amino acids and two common clay minerals (kaolinite and montmorillonite). The addition of 13C-labelled amino acids stimulated increased microbial activity. Amino acids were preferentially mineralized by the microbial community, concomitant with the leaching of other (non-labelled) dissolved organic molecules that were removed from solution by clay-mediated processes. We propose that microbial processes mediate the formation of organo-mineral particles in streamwater, with potential implications for the biochemical composition of organic matter transported through and buried within fluvial environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number30971
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Aug 2016


  • Microbial metabolism
  • Sorption
  • Dissolved Organic Matter
  • Amino Acids
  • Clay minerals


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