Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 9928–9939 | Cite as

Effects of dissolved organic matter leaching from macrophyte litter on black water events in shallow lakes

  • Yuhong He
  • Na Song
  • He-Long Jiang
Research Article


In recent years, the black water phenomenon has become an environmental event in eutrophic shallow lakes in China, leading to deterioration of lake ecosystems and potable water crises. Decomposition of macrophyte debris has been verified as a key inducement for black water events. In this study, the effects of the decomposition of dissolved organic matter (Kottelat et al., WASP 187:343–351, 2008) derived from macrophyte leachate on the occurrence of black water events are investigated to clarify the detailed mechanisms involved. Results show that dissolved organic matter (DOM) is composed of a trace of chromophoric DOM and mostly non-chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM). DOM decomposition is accompanied by varied concentration of CDOM components, generation of organic particles, and increased microbial concentrations. These processes increase water chroma only during initial 48 h, so the intensified water color cannot be maintained by DOM decomposition alone. During DOM decomposition, microorganisms first consume non-CDOM, increasing the relative CDOM concentration and turning the water color to black (or brown). Simultaneously, tryptophan and aromatic proteins, which are major ingredients of CDOM, enhance UV light absorption, further aggravating the macroscopic phenomenon of black color. Our results show that DOM leached from decayed macrophytes promotes or even triggers the occurrence of black water events and should be taken more seriously in the future.


Black water Dissolved organic matter Macrophyte Decomposition 



This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51379199 and 51679228).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Chinese Academy of ScienceBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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