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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Unified understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic controls of dissolved organic carbon reactivity in aquatic ecosystems

Berggren, Martin; Guillemette, Francois; Bieroza, Magdalena; Buffam, Ishi; Deininger, Anne; Hawkes, Jeffrey A.; Kothawala, Dolly N.; LaBrie, Richard; Lapierre, Jean-François; Murphy, Kathleen R.; Al-Kharusi, Enass S.; Rulli, Mayra P. D.; Hensgens, Geert; Younes, Hani; Wünsch, Urban J.


Despite our growing understanding of the global carbon cycle, scientific consensus on the drivers and mechanisms that control dissolved organic carbon (DOC) turnover in aquatic systems is lacking, hampered by the mismatch between research that approaches DOC reactivity from either intrinsic (inherent chemical properties) or extrinsic (environmental context) perspectives. Here we propose a conceptual view of DOC reactivity in which the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors controls turnover rates and determines which reactions will occur. We review three major types of reactions (biological, photochemical, and flocculation) from an intrinsic chemical perspective and further define the environmental features that modulate the expression of chemically inherent reactivity potential. Finally, we propose hypotheses of how extrinsic and intrinsic factors together shape patterns in DOC turnover across the land-to-ocean continuum, underscoring that there is no intrinsic DOC reactivity without environmental context. By acknowledging the intrinsic–extrinsic control duality, our framework intends to foster improved modeling of DOC reactivity and its impact on ecosystem services.


bioreactivity; dissolved organic carbon; photoreactivity; sorption

Published in

2022, volume: 103, number: 9, article number: e3763
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Berggren, Martin
Lund University
Guillemette, Francois
University of Quebec
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Deininger, Anne
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
Hawkes, Jeffrey A.
Uppsala University
Kothawala, Dolly N. (Kothawala, Dolly N.)
Uppsala University
LaBrie, Richard
University of Montreal
Lapierre, Jean-François
University of Montreal
Murphy, Kathleen R.
Chalmers University of Technology
Al-Kharusi, Enass S.
Lund University
Rulli, Mayra P. D.
Lund University
Hensgens, Geert
Lund University
Younes, Hani
Lund University
Wünsch, Urban J.
Chalmers University of Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

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