Biological fractionation of stable carbon isotopes at the aerobic/anaerobic water interface of meromictic water bodies

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Mass-spectrometric investigation of carbon isotope composition (δ13C) was carried out for suspended organic matter and dissolved mineral compounds for the water column of some meromictic water bodies differing in salinity and trophic state. As a rule, a more pronounced carbon isotope fractionation (resulting from the metabolism of phytoplankton and anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria) was revealed in the zones of enhanced oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis. Carbon isotope fractionation at the border between oxidized and reduced waters depends both on the activity of microbial communities and on the dominant species of phototrophic microorganisms. Analysis of the distribution profiles of the isotopic composition of suspended organic matter and dissolved mineral carbon revealed active mineralization of the organic matter newly formed via anoxygenic photosynthesis in the monimolimnion by microbial communities, resulting in the release of isotopically light carbon dioxide. Mineral carbon in the anaerobic zones of highly productive meromictic water bodies is therefore enriched with the light 12C isotope.

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