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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 82:199-208 (2018)  -  DOI:

Effects of sterilization on dissolved organic carbon (DOC) composition and bacterial utilization of DOC from lakes

Martin G. I. Andersson1, Núria Catalán1,2, Zeeshanur Rahman1,3, Lars J. Tranvik1, Eva S. Lindström1,*

1Department of Ecology and Genetics/Limnology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyv. 18D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
2ICRA, Catalan Institute of Water Research, Emili Grahit 101, 17003 Girona, Spain
3Department of Botany, Zakir Husain Delhi College, University of Delhi, Delhi 110 002, India
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Sterilization of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is an essential step in research on interactions between DOC and organisms, for example where the effect of different microbial communities on DOC is studied or vice versa. However, few studies have gone beyond acknowledging that sterilization of DOC influences its characteristics. Here, we aimed to provide further knowledge that enables scientists to better tailor their sterilization methods to their research question. To meet this aim, we conducted a sterilization experiment with DOC from 4 boreal lakes treated with 4 sterilization methods, i.e. 2 filtrations (0.2 µm, 0.1 µm) and 2 autoclaving approaches (single and double autoclaving with a single pH adjustment). Quantity and spectroscopic properties of DOC, before and after sterilization, were studied, and DOC was further tested as a substrate for bacterial growth. We found that the filtration methods better preserved the different DOC measures. In contrast, autoclaving caused major inconsistent shifts in both qualitative and quantitative measures of DOC, as well as an increase of the maximum abundance of bacteria in growth experiments. Nonetheless, there remains a trade-off between retaining the quality of DOC and achieving sterile conditions. Therefore, the sterilization method of choice should be guided by the scientific question at hand.

KEY WORDS: Microbial community · Filtration · Autoclave · DOM · EEMs · PARAFAC

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Cite this article as: Andersson MGI, Catalán N, Rahman Z, Tranvik LJ, Lindström ES (2018) Effects of sterilization on dissolved organic carbon (DOC) composition and bacterial utilization of DOC from lakes. Aquat Microb Ecol 82:199-208.

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