Photodegraded Dissolved Organic Matter from Peak Freshet River Discharge as a Substrate for Bacterial Production in a Lake-rich Great Arctic Delta

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (PhD)
Final version published as: 

Gareis, JAL, and LFW Lesack. 2018. Photodegraded dissolved organic matter from peak freshet river discharge as a substrate for bacterial production in a lake-rich great Arctic delta. Arctic Science. DOI: 10.1139/as-2017-0055.

Date created: 
Circumpolar river delta
Dissolved organic matter
Bacterial metabolism
Mackenzie River

Lake-rich Arctic river deltas are recharged with terrigenous dissolved organic matter (DOM) during the yearly peak water period corresponding with the solstice (24 h day−1 solar irradiance). Bacteria-free DOM collected during peak Mackenzie River discharge was exposed to sunlight for up to 14 days in June 2010. As solar exposure increased, carbon and lignin concentrations declined (10% and 42%, respectively, after 14 days), as did DOM absorptivity (62% after 14 days), aromaticity, and molecular weight. Photochemical changes were on par with those normally observed in Mackenzie Delta lakes over the entire open-water season. When irradiated freshet DOM was provided as a substrate, no significant differences were observed in community-level metabolism among five bacterial communities from representative delta habitats. However, bacterial abundance was significantly greater when nonirradiated (0 day) rather than irradiated DOM (7 or 14 days) was provided, while cell-specific metabolic measures revealed that per-cell bacterial production and growth efficiency were significantly greater when communities were provided irradiated substrate. This complex response to rapid DOM photodegradation may result from the production of inhibitory reactive oxygen species (ROS), along with shifts in bacterial community composition to species that are better able to tolerate ROS, or metabolize the labile photodegraded DOM.

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