Aquatic environment

A review of environmental characteristics and effects of low-molecular weight organic acids in the surface ecosystem

Min Xiao , Fengchang Wu


Received December 25, 2013,Revised March 20, 2014, Accepted , Available online April 01, 2014

Volume 26,2014,Pages 935-954

Low molecular weight organic acids (LMWOAs) are prevalent on the earth's surface. They are vital intermediate products during metabolic pathways of organic matter and participate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle during life activities. Photochemical reactions are pivotal for LMWOAs' origination and play a large role in determining their diversity and their ultimate fate. Within the long time that organic matter is preserved in sediments, it can be decomposed and converted to release organic and inorganic pollutants as well as C, N, and P nutrients, which are of potential ecological risk in causing secondary pollution to lake water. The sediment pool is a comprehensive and complex compartment closely associated with overlying water by various biochemical processes, during which LMWOAs play critical roles to transport and transform elements. This article elucidates geochemical behaviors of LMWOAs in the surface environment in details, taking natural water, soil, and aerosol as examples, focusing on reviewing research developments on sources and characteristics, migration and mineralization of LMWOAs and relevant environmental effects. Simultaneously, this review article depicts the categories and contents of LMWOAs or their contribution to DOC in environmental media, and evaluates their importance during organic matter early diagenesis. Through concluding and discussing the conversion mechanisms and influencing factors, the next research orientations on LMWOAs in lake ecosystems are determined, mainly concerning relationships with hydrochemical parameters and microorganisms, and interactions with pollutants. This will enrich the knowledge on organic matter degradation and related environmental effects, and help reconstruct a theoretical framework for organic compound succession and influencing factors, providing basic data for lake eutrophication and ecological risk assessment, conducive to better control over water pollution and proper management of water quality.

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