, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 3214-3223,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 12 Oct 2012

Characterization of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) from periphyton using liquid chromatography-organic carbon detection–organic nitrogen detection (LC-OCD-OND)


A protocol was developed to extract, fractionate, and quantitatively analyze periphyton extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which obtains both information on the molecular weight (M r) distribution and protein and polysaccharide content. The EPS were extracted from freshwater periphyton between July and December 2011. Organic carbon (OC) compounds from different EPS extracts were analyzed using liquid chromatography-organic carbon detection–organic nitrogen detection (LC-OCD-OND), and total protein and polysaccharide content were quantified. Four distinct OC fractions, on the basis of M r, were identified in all extracts, corresponding to high M r biopolymers (≥80–4 kDa), degradation products of humic substances (M r not available), low M r acids (10–0.7 kDa), and small amphiphilic/neutral compounds (3–0.5 kDa). Low C/N ratios (4.3 ± 0.8) were calculated for the biopolymer fractions, which represented 16–38 % of the measured dissolved organic carbon (DOC), indicating a significant presence of high M r proteins in the EPS. Protein and polysaccharide represented the two major components of EPS and, when combined, accounted for the measured DOC in extracts. Differences in specific OC fractions of EPS extracts over the course of the study could be quantified using this method. This study suggests that LC-OCD-OND is a new valuable tool in EPS characterization of periphyton.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues