Tracing carbon and nitrogen microbial assimilation in suspended particles in freshwaters

Mena-Rivera, Leonardo; Lloyd, Charlotte E.M.; Reay, Michaela K.; Goodall, Tim ORCID:; Read, Daniel S. ORCID:; Johnes, Penny J.; Evershed, Richard P.. 2023 Tracing carbon and nitrogen microbial assimilation in suspended particles in freshwaters. Biogeochemistry, 164. 277-293.

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The dynamic interactions between dissolved organic matter (DOM) and particulate organic matter (POM) are central in nutrient cycling in freshwater ecosystems. However, the molecular-level mechanisms of such interactions are still poorly defined. Here, we study spatial differences in the chemical (i.e., individual proteinaceous amino acids) and microbial (i.e., 16S rRNA) composition of suspended sediments in the River Chew, UK. We then applied a compound-specific stable isotope probing (SIP) approach to test the potential assimilation of 13C,15N-glutamate (Glu) and 15N-NO3− into proteinaceous biomass by particle-associated microbial communities over a 72-h period. Our results demonstrate that the composition of suspended particles is strongly influenced by the effluent of sewage treatment works. Fluxes and percentages of assimilation of both isotopically labelled substrates into individual proteinaceous amino acids showed contrasting dynamics in processing at each site linked to primary biosynthetic metabolic pathways. Preferential assimilation of the organic molecule glutamate and evidence of its direct assimilation into newly synthesised biomass was obtained. Our approach provides quantitative molecular information on the mechanisms by which low molecular weight DOM is mineralised in the water column compared to an inorganic substrate. This is paramount for better understanding the processing and fate of organic matter in aquatic ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0168-2563
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: amino acids, dissolved organic matter, nitrate, particulate organic matter, stable isotope probing, suspended particles
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Sep 2022 15:39 +0 (UTC)

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