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Nature's chemical diversity reflected in Swedish lakes
Date:5/2/2014

It's not only the biology of lakes that varies with the climate and other environmental factors, it's also their chemistry. More knowledge about this is needed to understand the ecology of lakes and their role in the carbon cycle and the climate. Today an international research group led by Uppsala University is publishing a comprehensive study of the composition of organic compounds in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

- Lake water is like a very thin broth with several thousand ingredients in the recipe, all with different properties. At the same time many of the molecules are common in a broad spectrum of different environments. For instance, in the extremely complex chemical mixture we have found the same components as colleagues have described from the Congo. And they react to environmental factors in the same way in the tropics as in Sweden, says Lars Tranvik, who directed the study.

All of the world's lakes cover only three per cent of the surface area of the continents, but they nevertheless play a huge role in the carbon cycle of the planet. Among other things, there is an outflow of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This is largely due to the fact that these lakes take in tremendous amounts of organic materials from the surrounding land, and these are also converted in the water with the help of microorganisms.

Most of this organic matter is found in dissolved form in the water and consists of thousands of different molecules. The present study is the most comprehensive investigation ever of how the composition of these organic compounds is formed by processes in lakes and their catchments in the surrounding landscape. The researchers have analysed the make-up of the dissolved organic matter in 120 lakes from north to south in Sweden, as well as how its composition varies with the climate and other factors.

The study is a collaborative project involving a group of scientists from the Limnology
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Contact: Lars Tranvik
lars.tranvik@ebc.uu.se
0046-702-25830
Uppsala University
Source:Eurekalert

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