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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Anaerobic and aerobic biodegradation of soil-extracted dissolved organic matter from the water-level-fluctuation zone of the Three Gorges Reservoir region, China

Liu, Jiang; Liang, Jian; Bravo, Andrea G.; Wei, Shiqiang; Yang, Caiyun; Wang, Dingyong; Jiang, Tao


The biodegradation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in natural environments is determined by its molecular composition and reactivity. Redox oscillations are common in the water-level-fluctuation zone (WLFZ) of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR). As a consequence, the soil DOM released is degraded under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions. The DOM compounds available for degradation under contrasting redox conditions and the resulting DOM composition still need to be elucidated. By combining laboratory experiments with an in-depth characterization of DOM optical properties, we show that different pathways controlled the depletion and enrichment of the DOM optical components under different oxygen regimes. In particular, 28-day dark biodegradation assays showed that up to 39.5 +/- 4% DOM was degraded under anaerobic conditions, while 55.5 +/- 6% DOM was biodegraded under aerobic conditions. Aerobic biodegradation resulted in a higher aromaticity and degree of humification of the DOM compared to anaerobic degradation. The specific UV absorbance at a wavelength of 254 (SUVA(254)) and biological index (BIX) could be used to track DOM biodegradation under anaerobic conditions. Under aerobic conditions, the SUVA(254) , BIX and concentration of coloured DOM (CDOM, reflected by a (355)) could track DOM biodegradation, and significant amounts of CDOM could be aerobically biodegraded. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Dissolved organic matter; Biodegradation; Optical properties; Anaerobic; Water level fluctuation zone

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2021, Volume: 764, article number: 142857
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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