Student Research Presentations

Similarities in photodegradation of cyanobacteria-derived and marine fluorescent dissolved organic matter




Ianiri, H.*, S. Timko and M. Gonsior


Ocean Sciences Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana


Marine dissolved organic matter (DOM) is one of the largest reduced carbon reservoirs on Earth, yet we only have a limited understanding of its production, cycling, degradation, and overall structure. It was previously believed that a significant portion of refractory dissolved organic carbon (RDOC) in the ocean was derived from terrestrial sources, however recent studies indicated that the majority of marine DOM might be produced in situ by marine biota. Previous research has found that terrestrial and microbial DOM fluorescent signatures are similar, complicating the identification of the origins of marine fluorescent DOM (FDOM). However, photodegradation kinetics of terrestrial and microbial-derived DOM are expected to be different due to their assumed different chemical compositions. In this study we analyzed for the first time the photodegradation kinetics of microbial-derived DOM originating from different cyanobacteria strains. Cyanobacterial-derived DOM were exposed to simulated sunlight for a total of 20 hours while recording excitation emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence every twenty minutes to observe the photodegradation of this specific FDOM. Parallel Factor Analysis (PARAFAC) was applied to deconvolute the EEM matrices into six separate components. The photodegradation kinetics was then calculated for each component and compared with previously obtained photodegradation data of marine and terrestrial FDOM. This six component PARAFAC model was similar to those generated from open ocean data and global DOM data sets. The “humic-like” FDOM was also found in cyanobacteria FDOM and showed similar fluorescence intensities and percent fluorescence loss when compared to marine DOM. The degradation kinetics of the “humic-like” component of microbial-derived DOM was faster than that of terrestrial-derived DOM, and marine FDOM samples showed degradation kinetics more similar to microbial-derived FDOM. This indicates marine FDOM is more similar in chemical composition to microbial-derived FDOM than terrestrial-derived FDOM, supporting the hypothesis that the majority of marine FDOM is produced in situ.


Michael Gonsior, Ph.D.


Hope Ianiri, Northeastern University
The REU students are indicated with an asterisk (*).

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