Organo-mineral complexation alters carbon and nitrogen cycling in stream microbial assemblages

William Ross Hunter, Wolfgang Wanek, Judith Prommer, Maria Mooshammer, Tom Battin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Inland waters are of global biogeochemical importance receiving carbon inputs of ~ 4.8 Pg C y-1. Of this 12 % is buried, 18 % transported to the oceans, and 70 % supports aquatic secondary production. However, the mechanisms that determine the fate of organic matter (OM) in these systems are poorly defined. One important aspect is the formation of organo-mineral complexes in aquatic systems and their potential as a route for OM transport and burial vs. their use potential as organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) sources. Organo-mineral particles form by sorption of dissolved OM to freshly eroded mineral surfaces and may contribute to ecosystem-scale particulate OM fluxes. We tested the availability of mineral-sorbed OM as a C & N source for streamwater microbial assemblages and streambed biofilms. Organo-mineral particles were constructed in vitro by sorption of 13C:15N-labelled amino acids to hydrated kaolin particles, and microbial degradation of these particles compared with equivalent doses of 13C:15N-labelled free amino acids. Experiments were conducted in 120 ml mesocosms over 7 days using biofilms and streamwater sampled from the Oberer Seebach stream (Austria), tracing assimilation and mineralization of 13C and 15N labels from mineral-sorbed and dissolved amino acids.Here we present data on the effects of organo-mineral sorption upon amino acid mineralization and its C:N stoichiometry. Organo-mineral sorption had a significant effect upon microbial activity, restricting C and N mineralization by both the biofilm and streamwater treatments. Distinct differences in community response were observed, with both dissolved and mineral-stabilized amino acids playing an enhanced role in the metabolism of the streamwater microbial community. Mineral-sorption of amino acids differentially affected C & N mineralization and reduced the C:N ratio of the dissolved amino acid pool. The present study demonstrates that organo-mineral complexes restrict microbial degradation of OM and may, consequently, alter the carbon and nitrogen cycling dynamics within aquatic ecosystems.
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationGeophysical Research Abstracts
PublisherEuropean Geosciences Union
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2014

Cite this