Autoxidation as a major player in the fate of terrestrial particulate organic matter in seawater

Abstract : The Rhône River plays a major role in the Mediterranean Sea, being both its main freshwater source and its major particulate matter provider. This survey of the fate of terrestrial particulate organic matter (POM) was conducted along the salinity gradient of the Rhône River plume, between 2012 and 2014. It revealed that autoxidation acts rapidly and intensely upon the POM's arrival at sea, with α-amyrin and β-amyrin autoxidation rates going from 12.9 ± 2.9% to 45.0 ± 6.4% and 10.7 ± 4.0% to 50.3 ± 4.4%, respectively, between fresh water (salinity 0) and seawater (salinity 38). These compounds, being unambiguous markers of the terrestrial origin of POM, allow us to unequivocally characterize the POM as terrestrial. While it was originally believed that a desorption of redox-active trace metal ions was the favoring factor that kick-started this intense autoxidation, this study evidences no trace metal desorption in the Rhône River mixing zone and hence no correlation between high autoxidation rates and the presence of trace metal ions. Autoxidation rates however were very well correlated with salinity levels within the river plume, with r 2 reaching 0.801, 0.962, and 0.943 for sitosterol, α-amyrin, and β-amyrin, respectively, in November 2014.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, American Geophysical Union, 2017, 122 (5), pp.1203 - 1215. 〈10.1002/2016JG003708〉
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Marie-Aimée Galeron, Olivier Radakovitch, Bruno Charrière, Frederic Vaultier, Jean-Francois Rontani. Autoxidation as a major player in the fate of terrestrial particulate organic matter in seawater. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, American Geophysical Union, 2017, 122 (5), pp.1203 - 1215. 〈10.1002/2016JG003708〉. 〈hal-01621942〉

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