Metabolism of mineral-sorbed organic matter depends upon microbial lifestyle in fluvial ecosystems
In fluvial ecosystems mineral erosion, carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) fluxes are linked via organo-mineral complexation, where dissolved organic molecules bind to mineral surfaces. Biofilms and suspended aggregates represent major aquatic microbial lifestyles whose relative importance changes predictably through fluvial networks. We tested how organo-mineral sorption affects aquatic microbial metabolism, using organo-mineral particles containing a mix of 13C, 15N-labelled amino acids. We traced 13C and 15N retention within biofilm and suspended aggregate biomass and its mineralisation. Organo-mineral complexation restricted C and N retention within biofilms and aggregates and also their mineralisation. This reduced the efficiency with which biofilms mineralise C and N by 30 % and 6 %. By contrast, organo-minerals reduced the C and N mineralisation efficiency of suspended aggregates by 41 % and 93 %. Our findings show how organo-mineral complexation affects microbial C:N stoichiometry, potentially altering the biogeochemical fate of C and N within fluvial ecosystems.