Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1252–1264 | Cite as

Formation and mineralization kinetics of dissolved humic substances from aquatic macrophytes decomposition

  • Argos Willian de Almeida Assunção
  • Brayan Pétrick Souza
  • Marcela Bianchessi da Cunha-Santino
  • Irineu BianchiniJr
Natural Organic Matter: Chemistry, Function and Fate in the Environment



Aquatic macrophytes are an important source of autochthonous dissolved organic carbon in aquatic ecosystems. Yield and mass loss of aquatic humic substances released from macrophytes decomposition could be affected by the plant species and oxygen availability. Our aim was to describe the kinetics of dissolved fulvic and humic acids formed from decomposition of four aquatic macrophytes under aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Materials and methods

Samples of Eichhornia azurea (Sw.) Kunth, Egeria najas Planch, Oxycaryum cubense (Poepp. and Kunth), and Salvinia molesta (Mitchell) were incubated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. On sampling days, the remaining particulate detritus were weighted and were measured for the pH, the electrical conductivity, and the organic carbon in the dissolved fraction. Humic substances were extracted from the dissolved fraction, separated into fulvic and humic acids, and then quantified. The mass loss of particulate and dissolved fractions were fitted to first order kinetic models.

Results and discussion

Aerobic environment favored mineralization of aquatic macrophyte detritus and humification of organic dissolved carbon. Incubations under aerobic conditions formed 3.6 times more humic acid than incubations under anaerobic conditions. However, incubations in an anaerobic environment formed 1.84 times more fulvic acid. The dissolved humic compounds presented low mineralization rates probably due to the presence of the macrophyte detritus in the incubation representing a more attractive source of resource for microorganisms.


In many cases, the mineralization of HS was not noticed, leading to an increase in humic and fulvic acid concentration in the water. O. cubense detritus presented the highest carbon concentration, were related to refractory features, and generated the highest amounts of dissolved HA (mainly under aerobic condition). Egeria najas detritus presented the lowest carbon concentration, were related to labile features, and generated the highest amounts of dissolved FA (mainly under anaerobic condition). Besides that, high humic substance concentrations in the dissolved organic carbon were related to low mineralization of this fraction.


Dissolved organic carbon Dissolved oxygen Fulvic acid Humic acid Leachate Mathematical modeling 



This study was conducted in the Laboratório de Bioensaios e Modelagem Matemática of the Universidade Federal de São Carlos—UFSCar and funded by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo—FAPESP (processes: 11/16990-4 and 11/10178-6).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Argos Willian de Almeida Assunção
    • 1
  • Brayan Pétrick Souza
    • 1
  • Marcela Bianchessi da Cunha-Santino
    • 1
    • 2
  • Irineu BianchiniJr
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Recursos NaturaisUniversidade Federal de São Carlos—UFSCarSão CarlosBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de HidrobiologiaUniversidade Federal de São Carlos—UFSCarSão CarlosBrazil

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