Original paper

Photochemical transformation of allochthonous organic matter provides bioavailable nutrients in a humic lake

Vähätalo, Anssi V.; Salonen, Kalevi Münster; Wetzel, Robert G.


Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus associated with dissolved organic matter (DOM) form a large potential source of nutrients and energy for bacterio- and phytoplankton. The role of solar radiation in the transformation of DOM into inorganic and bioavailable forms was investigated in a humic boreal Lake Valkea-Kotinen. The concentrations of nitrate+nitrite, inorganic phosphorus and inorganic carbon increased, but those of ammonium decreased in <0.2-μm filtered hypolimnetic water during 1-day exposures to solar radiation. In epilimnetic water, solar radiation increased the concentration of ammonium at a rate equivalent to the rate of atmospheric deposition of inorganic nitrogen. When indigenous bacteria of Lake Valkea-Kotinen were inoculated into sunlight-exposed waters, bacteria achieved higher biovolume and productivity and incorporated carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus at greater rates than those grown in non-exposed waters. Bacteria mineralized dissolved organic carbon 92-375% more in exposed than in non-exposed waters. Thus, in addition to direct photochemical mineralization, solar radiation increased metabolic mineralization of organic carbon by bacteria. Solar radiation decreased the activity of phosphomonoesterase during exposures down to <1% of the initial values. However, after 4-d bioassay the activity of phosphomonoestrase in the exposed waters exceeded that in the non-exposed water. Results showed that solar radiation transformed dissolved organic nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon into forms readily available to phyto- and bacterioplankton. The photochemical supply of nutrients increased the production of bacterioplankton and can be expected also to increase production of phytoplankton.


dissolved organic matterphotolysismineralizationuv-effects