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Fingerprinting the elemental composition and chemodiversity of vegetation leachates: consequences for dissolved organic matter dynamics in Arctic environments


Dissolved organic matter is a key compartment for biogeochemical cycles in the Arctic and Subarctic terrestrial environments. With changing vegetation ecosystems, the chemical composition of organic matter is expected to shift and thus, the most labile part of it, namely the extractable fraction. To this date, few studies have focused on the fingerprinting of DOM fraction from different primary sources, and even less on its potential repercussions on the environment. In this study, we jointly characterized the chemical composition of bulk and water-extractable organic matter (WEOM) from different vegetation species typical of Subarctic ecosystems. Through a multi-analyses approach, including elementary analysis, solid state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance, UV and 3D fluorescence spectroscopy, and high-resolution mass spectrometry, our results highlighted that the quantity and composition of produced WEOM significantly differed between vegetation sources and specifically between plant functional types (PFT, e.g., lichens, graminoids, and trees and shrubs). The relevance of optical indices was questioned, and the use of several of them was discarded for unprocessed WEOM study. However, the DOM proxies (optical indices, molecular composition, and stoichiometry) enabled to conclude that the lichen WEOM was likely less degradable than vascular plants WEOM, and among the latter group, graminoids produced more degradable WEOM than trees and shrubs. This work reported specific organic fingerprints for the different PFT. Consequently, the ongoing changes of vegetation in Arctic and Subarctic regions may greatly affect the composition of DOM that enters the soil and the hydrosystems, as well as the biogeochemical processes it is involved in.

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All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.


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We acknowledge the main support of this project by the french national grant EC2CO- Biohefect/Ecodyn//Dril/MicrobiEen, DYNAMOET-TK, the METIS laboratory for additional support and the ENVEXX program (SU) for sampling financial support. Laurent Orgogozo is acknowledged for vegetation sampling, Mahaut Sourzac (EPOC) for 3D fluorescence measurements, Véronique Vaury (iEES-Paris) for EA measurements, Christelle Anquetil (METIS) and Baptiste Rigaud (IMPC platform of Sorbonne Université) for sample preparation and NMR analyses, Emmanuel Aubry (METIS) for sample preparation and TOC measurements and Amélie Guittet (OSU of Sorbonne Université) for sample preparation and absorbance measurements.


Funding was provided by Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (EC2CO DYNAMOET-TK).

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Conceptualization: MR, MAA; Formal analysis and investigation: AA, MCB, YA; Writing—original draft preparation: AA, MAA, MCB; Writing—review and editing: AA, MAA, MCB, GH, YA, MR; Funding acquisition: MR, MAA; Supervision: MR.

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Correspondence to Alienor Allain.

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The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

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Responsible Editor: Penny Johnes.

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Allain, A., Alexis, M.A., Bridoux, M.C. et al. Fingerprinting the elemental composition and chemodiversity of vegetation leachates: consequences for dissolved organic matter dynamics in Arctic environments. Biogeochemistry (2022).

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  • Water extractable organic matter
  • Chemical characterization
  • Multi-analyses approach
  • Arctic ecosystem shift
  • Organic matter dynamics