Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1347–1354 | Cite as

Fluorescence properties of humic acid interaction products with s-triazine and bipyridilium herbicides and their Cu complexes: a multivariate approach

  • Valeria D’Orazio
  • Teodoro Miano
Natural Organic Matter: Chemistry, Function and Fate in the Environment



Excitation–emission matrices spectroscopy (EEMS) of soil humic acids (HAs) contains large amount of information on their properties, as well as on the dynamics related to their intra- and inter-molecular interactions. The objective of this research was (i) to show that EEMS represents a useful tool to investigate the molecular and mechanistic aspects of HA adsorbing capacity towards atrazine (A) and paraquat (P) with or without Cu2+ ions and (ii) to evaluate if additional information on these mechanisms can be obtained by combining EEMS with principal component analysis (PCA).

Materials and methods

HAs have been isolated from soil samples collected in a citrus field at three locations, within the plant rows (HAa); between the rows (HAb) and in a adjacent, control soil (HAc). Interaction products were obtained between each HA and A and P, with or without Cu ions. Elemental analysis and Fourier-transorm Infrared Spectroscopy were applied to support fluorescence data. Fluorescence spectra were recorded on aqueous solutions, and fluorescence intensity (FI) values were normalized using a quinine sulphate standard. PCA analysis was performed using the software STATGRAPHICS Centurion XV.I.

Results and discussion

The EEM spectra of the three unreacted HAs are characterized by the presence of two fluorophores α and β, in the region of longer wavelengths pairs (EEWP). The EEM spectra of the HA-A interaction products are featured by the same two fluorophores, with FI values decreased of about 50%, whereas those of the HA-P interaction products show a unique peak, γ, at intermediate EEWP. Finally, the EEM spectra of HA-A-Cu2+ show, with respect to HA-A samples, a blue shift of the α peak with an additional decrease of FI values (about 60%) and the disappearance of the peaks β, whereas those of HA-P-Cu2+ feature, in comparison with those of HA-P, a small red-shift of the peak γ. PCA data suggest that Cu ions do not affect the interaction mechanism between HA and P, whereas it appears to exercise a strong influence on interaction between HA and A.


The results obtained indicate that EEMS allows direct measurements of the adsorbing capacity of HA towards atrazine and paraquat. Additional information obtained by PCA analysis show that Cu ions behave like a good antagonist in preventing the formation of ionic bonds between HA and atrazine, whereas Cu is not able to affect the prevalent mechanism of HA interaction with paraquat, which is a charge-transfer bond.


Atrazine Copper ions Excitation emission matrices spectroscopy Humic acid Paraquat PCA 

Supplementary material

11368_2016_1611_MOESM1_ESM.docx (434 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 433 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze del Suolo, della Pianta e degli AlimentiUniversity of BariBariItaly

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