Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a vital resource for heterotrophic bacteria in aquatic ecosystems. The bioavailability of fulvic acid,which comprises the majority of aquatic DOC, is not well understood.The present study examined the bioavailability of bulk DOC and fulvic acid from two contrasting but inter-relatedwater bodies: the Murrumbidgee River and adjacent Berry Jerry Lagoon. Bacteria utilised fulvic acids; however, bulk DOC was more bioavailable. Bacteria were able to utilise Murrumbidgee River DOC and fulvic acid more readily than Berry Jerry Lagoon DOC and fulvic acid, suggesting that the quality of carbon may be an important factor to consider when evaluating lateral exchange of nutrients between the main channel and floodplain. Chemical characteristics of fulvic acids appeared to explain some of the variation in fulvic acid bioavailability. The higher the molecular weight and complexity of the fulvic acid, the longer it took for bacteria to utilise the substrate (lag phase), but the larger the number of bacteria that grew on the substrate. The present study calls attention to the need for further multidisciplinary studies to address the quality of carbon in riverine-floodplain ecosystems.
McDonald, S., Pringle, J., Prenzler, P. D., Bishop, A. G., & Robards, K. (2007). Bioavailability of dissolved organic carbon and fulvic acid from an Australian floodplain river and billabong. Marine and Freshwater Research, 58(2), 222-231. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF06085