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Turnover time of fluorescent dissolved organic matter in the dark global ocean

Catalá, T. S.; Reche, I.; Fuentes-Lema, A.; Romera-Castillo, C.; Nieto-Cid, M.; Ortega-Retuerta, E.; Calvo, E.; Álvarez, M.; Marrasé, C.; Stedmon, C. A.; Álvarez-Salgado, X. A.
2015
Nature Communications
Marine dissolved organic matter (DOM) is one of the largest reservoirs of reduced carbon on Earth. In the dark ocean (4200 m), most of this carbon is refractory DOM. This refractory DOM, largely produced during microbial mineralization of organic matter, includes humic-like substances generated in situ and detectable by fluorescence spectroscopy. Here we show two ubiquitous humic-like fluorophores with turnover times of 435±41 and 610±55 years, which persist significantly longer than the B350 years that the dark global ocean takes to renew. In parallel, decay of a tyrosine-like fluorophore with a turnover time of 379±103 years is also detected. We propose the use of DOM fluorescence to study the cycling of resistant DOM that is preserved at centennial timescales and could represent a mechanism of carbon sequestration (humic-like fraction) and the decaying DOM injected into the dark global ocean, where it decreases at centennial timescales (tyrosine-like fraction).
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