American Chemical Society
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Molecular and Structural Characterization of Dissolved Organic Matter from the Deep Ocean by FTICR-MS, Including Hydrophilic Nitrogenous Organic Molecules

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journal contribution
posted on 2008-03-01, 00:00 authored by Thorsten Reemtsma, Anja These, Michael Linscheid, Jerry Leenheer, Alejandro Spitzy
Dissolved organic matter isolated from the deep Atlantic Ocean and fractionated into a so-called hydrophobic (HPO) fraction and a very hydrophilic (HPI) fraction was analyzed for the first time by Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS) to resolve the molecular species, to determine their exact masses, and to calculate their molecular formulas. The elemental composition of about 300 molecules was identified. Those in the HPO fraction (14C age of 5100 year) are very similar to much younger freshwater fulvic acids, but less aromatic and more oxygenated molecules are more frequent. This trend continues toward the HPI fraction and may indicate biotic and abiotic aging processes that this material experienced since its primary production thousands of years ago. In the HPI fraction series of nitrogenous molecules containing one, two, or three nitrogens were identified by FTICR-MS. Product ion spectra of the nitrogenous molecules suggest that the nitrogen atoms in these molecules are included in the (alicyclic) backbone of these molecules, possibly in reduced form. These mass spectrometric data suggest that a large set of stable fulvic acids is ubiquitous in all aquatic compartments. Although sources may differ, their actual composition and structure appears to be quite similar and largely independent from their source, because they are the remainder of intensive oxidative degradation processes.