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[Publication]: Benthic cyanobacterial detritus mats in lacustrine sediment: Characterization and odorant producing potential

Prof. Limin Zhang published a research paper in Environmental Pollution (2019, 113453)


Eutrophic freshwater lake ecosystems are receiving increasing public attention due to a global increase in large-scale harmful cyanobacterial blooms in surface waters. However, the contribution of phytodetritus accumulation in benthic sediments post-bloom remains unclear. In this study, field investigations were performed using microsensors to evaluate benthic phytodetritus mats by measuring TOC/TN ratios, pigments, biodegradable compounds and odorants as descriptive parameters. Results show that the massive amount of phytodetritus trapped by aquatic plants gradually evolved into benthic cyanobacterial detritus mats, which were characterized as anoxic, reductive and low pH. It was confirmed that the occurrence of odorants is more serious in the detritus mats due to decay and decomposition of the accumulated phytodetritus. The mean odorant content in the vegetated zones was 3–52 times higher than that in the unvegetated zones. The dominant odorants were dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS), β-ionone and β-cyclocitral, with mean contents of 52.38 ng·(g·dw)-1, 162.20 ng·(g·dw)-1 and 307.51 ng·(g·dw)-1, respectively, in the sediment. In addition, odorant production appears to be associated with the distribution of biodegradable compounds in the sediment. This is supported by the marked correlation observed between biodegradable compounds and odorants. Multiple regression analysis showed that biodegradable compounds can be used as indicators to predict odorant content in the sediment. It is noteworthy that the odorant trend in the water column and sediment is symmetrical, indicating a risk of diffusion from the sediment to the water column. This study helps to clarifying the contributions of benthic cyanobacterial detritus mats to odorant production in shallow eutrophic lakes. The information provided herein may also be useful for future management of aquatic ecosystems.