Environmental Microbiomes Impact

GEO: Environmental Microbiomes Impact / Natural Organic Matter

Boundless Element Cycles within and across Interfaces
Source: BGC

Natural organic matter (NOM) occurs in soils, freshwater and marine environments, in the atmosphere and in the form of prebiotic organic matter. It represents an exceedingly complex mixture of organic compounds that collectively exhibits a nearly continuous range of properties (size-reactivity continuum). The fate of NOM in the bio- and geosphere is governed according to the rather fundamental restraints of thermodynamics and kinetics. In these intricate materials, the “classical” signatures of the (geogenic or ultimately biogenic) precursor molecules, like lipids, glycans, proteins and natural products have been attenuated, often beyond recognition, during a succession of biotic (microbial) and abiotic (e.g. photo- and redox chemistry) reactions. Due to the loss of biochemical signature, these materials can be designated as non-repetitive complex systems.

The ecological significance of the quintessential molecular heterogeneity of NOM in the range of the theoretical limits defined by the laws of chemical binding is to procure a crucial life-sustaining force, with a well-balanced persistence and reactivity to enable and sustain microbial life in aquatic, marine and terrestrial ecosystems and to maintain plant growth and soil quality, indispensable prerequisites for at least any higher terrestrial life. In addition, NOM is an active participant of the global carbon and other element cycles. It also defines the bioavailability and cycling of organic and inorganic nutrients and pollutants, making the molecular level understanding of such supermixtures a high priority topic of general interest.

NOM incorporates the hugely disparate characteristics of abiotic and biotic complexity. Coevolution of NOM and life occurred throughout the entire history of the earth. However, the origin of life on earth (with an ever decreasing apparent time scale for deployment) and the conditional relationships between abiotic and biotic complexity are not yet understood in full.


Selected Publications:

Zhao, Z., Gonsior, M., Luek, J., Timko, S., Ianiri, H., Hertkorn, N., ... & Chen, F. (2017). Picocyanobacteria and deep-ocean fluorescent dissolved organic matter share similar optical properties. Nature Communications, 8.

Ruf, A., Kanawati, B., Hertkorn, N., Yin, Q. Z., Moritz, F., Harir, M., ... & Bronsky, B. (2017). Previously unknown class of metalorganic compounds revealed in meteorites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(11), 2819-2824.

Luek, J. L., Schmitt-Kopplin, P., Mouser, P. J., Petty, W. T., Richardson, S. D., & Gonsior, M. (2017). Halogenated Organic Compounds Identified in Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewaters Using Ultrahigh Resolution Mass Spectrometry. Environmental Science & Technology, 51(10), 5377-5385.

Dvorski, S. E. M., Gonsior, M., Hertkorn, N., Uhl, J., Müller, H., Griebler, C., & Schmitt-Kopplin, P. (2016). Geochemistry of dissolved organic matter in a spatially highly resolved groundwater petroleum hydrocarbon plume cross-section. Environmental science & technology, 50(11), 5536-5546.

Ksionzek, K. B., Lechtenfeld, O. J., McCallister, S. L., Schmitt-Kopplin, P., Geuer, J. K., Geibert, W., & Koch, B. P. (2016). Dissolved organic sulfur in the ocean: Biogeochemistry of a petagram inventory. Science, 354(6311), 456-459.

Meckenstock, R. U., von Netzer, F., Stumpp, C., Lueders, T., Himmelberg, A. M., Hertkorn, N., ... & Schulze-Makuch, D. (2014). Water droplets in oil are microhabitats for microbial life. Science, 345(6197), 673-676.

Trias, R., Ménez, B., Campion, P., Zivanovic, Y., Lecourt, L., Lecoeuvre, A., ... & Mesfin, K. G. (2017). High reactivity of deep biota under anthropogenic CO 2 injection into basalt. Nature communications, 8(1), 1063.