Positive priming of terrestrially-derived dissolved organic matter in a freshwater microcosm system


The role of priming processes in the remineralization of terrestrially derived dissolved organic carbon (TDOC) in aquatic systems has been overlooked. We provide evidence for TDOC priming using a lab-based microcosm experiment in which TDOC was primed by the addition of 13C-labeled algal dissolved organic carbon (ADOC) or a 13C-labeled disaccharide (trehalose). The rate of TDOC remineralization to carbon dioxide (CO2) occurred 4.1 ± 0.9 and 1.5 ± 0.3 times more rapidly with the addition of trehalose and ADOC, respectively, relative to experiments with TDOC as the sole carbon source over the course of a 301 h incubation period. Results from these controlled experiments provide fundamental evidence for the occurrence of priming of TDOC by ADOC and a simple disaccharide. We suggest that priming effects on TDOC should be considered in carbon budgets for large-river deltas, estuaries, lakes, hydroelectric reservoirs, and continental shelves.

Geophysical Research Letters, 42 (13), 5460-5467