, Volume 142, Issue 2, pp 189–207 | Cite as

Distribution, degradation and bioavailability of dissolved organic matter in the East China Sea

  • Chong-Xiao Ji
  • Gui-Peng YangEmail author
  • Yan Chen
  • Peng-Yan Zhang


Water samples were collected from the East China Sea (ECS) in October 2015 to investigate the distribution, degradation and bioavailability of organic matter. Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total hydrolyzable amino acids (THAAs, including dissolved free, DFAA and combined fraction, DCAA), particulate amino acids (PAAs), and total dissolved carbohydrates (TDCHO, including monosaccharides, MCHO and polysaccharides, PCHO) were measured. DOC and TCHO concentrations exhibited similar distribution patterns with high values occurring at nearshore stations, revealing the effects of terrestrial input and similar source and removal pathways of DOC and TCHO. The distributions of THAA, DCAA, and PAA displayed declining trends from the north to south of the ECS. Elevated THAA values simultaneously occurred in the center of the transect. The onboard incubation experiments with surface seawater from one station showed that the values of degradation index based on amino acids decreased with the increase of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentrations, indicating the mineralization of THAA to DIN during degradation process. TCHO-C% and THAA-C% are defined as the percentages of carbohydrates and amino acids in DOC, respectively. There were 21 stations suffering P limitation, implying that PO 4 3− -P content was the key factor limiting the growth of phytoplankton. High TCHO-C% values were found at P-limited stations, indicating that phytoplankton preferentially produced carbohydrates when experiencing nutrient limitation. The difference of dissolved organic matter bioavailability between surface and bottom water were probably due to water stratification. Overall, the present study may have implications for the source, removal and bioavailability of organic mater in the ECS.


Dissolved organic matter Amino acid Carbohydrate Incubation Bioavailability East China Sea 



We are grateful to the captain and crew of the R/V “Science No. 3” for help and cooperation during the cruise. Data to support this article were listed in the references, figures and tables. This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0601300), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41320104008 and 41576073), the Creative Team Project of the Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental Science, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Grant No. LMEES-CTSP-2018-2), Aoshan Talents Program of Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (No. 2015 ASTP), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 201762030).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 244 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chong-Xiao Ji
    • 1
  • Gui-Peng Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Yan Chen
    • 1
  • Peng-Yan Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Marine Chemistry Theory and Technology, Ministry of Education; College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental ScienceQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ChemistryOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina

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