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Journal Articles Biogeosciences Year : 2023

The hidden role of dissolved organic carbon in the biogeochemical cycle of carbon in modern redox-stratified lakes

Abstract

Abstract. The dissolved organic carbon (DOC) reservoir plays a critical role in the C cycle of marine and freshwater environments because of its size and implication in many biogeochemical reactions. Although it is poorly constrained, its importance in ancient Earth's C cycles is also commonly invoked. Yet DOC is rarely quantified and characterized in modern stratified analogues. In this study, we investigated the DOC reservoirs of four redox-stratified alkaline crater lakes in Mexico. We analyzed the concentrations and isotopic compositions of DOC throughout the four water columns and compared them with existing data on dissolved inorganic and particulate organic C reservoirs (DIC and POC). The four lakes have high DOC concentrations with great variability between and within the lakes (averaging 2 ± 4 mM; 1 SD, n=28; i.e., from ∼ 15 to 160 times the amount of POC). The δ13CDOC signatures also span a broad range of values from −29.3 ‰ to −8.7 ‰ (with as much as 12.5 ‰ variation within a single lake). The prominent DOC peaks (up to 21 mM), together with their associated isotopic variability, are interpreted as reflecting oxygenic and/or anoxygenic primary productivity through the release of excess fixed carbon in three of the lakes (Alberca de los Espinos, La Preciosa, and Atexcac). By contrast, the variability of [DOC] and δ13CDOC in the case of Lake Alchichica is mainly explained by the partial degradation of organic matter and the accumulation of DOC in anoxic waters. The DOC records detailed metabolic functions such as active DIC-uptake and DIC-concentrating mechanisms, which cannot be inferred from DIC and POC analyses alone but which are critical to the understanding of carbon fluxes from the environment to the biomass. Extrapolating our results to the geological record, we suggest that anaerobic oxidation of DOC may have caused the very negative C isotope excursions in the Neoproterozoic. It is, however, unlikely that a large oceanic DOC reservoir could overweigh the entire oceanic DIC reservoir. This study demonstrates how the analysis of DOC in modern systems deepens our understanding of the C cycle in stratified environments and helps to set boundary conditions for the Earth's past oceans.
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hal-04182498 , version 1 (28-02-2024)

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Robin Havas, Christophe Thomazo, Miguel Iniesto, Didier Jézéquel, David Moreira, et al.. The hidden role of dissolved organic carbon in the biogeochemical cycle of carbon in modern redox-stratified lakes. Biogeosciences, 2023, 20 (12), pp.2405-2424. ⟨10.5194/bg-20-2405-2023⟩. ⟨hal-04182498⟩
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