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Vol. 76, No. 1, 2010; Pages: 23–29

Contribution of Microbial Activity to Carbon Chemistry in Clouds

Mickael Vaïtilingom,1,3 Pierre Amato,1,2 Martine Sancelme,1 Paolo Laj,3† Maud Leriche,4,5 and Anne-Marie Delort1,2*

Laboratoire SEESIB, UMR 6504, CNRS-UBP, Department of Chemistry, 24 Avenue des Landais, F-63177 Aubie`re, France.


The biodegradation of the most abundant atmospheric organic C1 to C4 compounds (formate, acetate, lactate, succinate) by five selected representative microbial strains (three Pseudomonas strains, one Sphingomonas strain, and one yeast strain) isolated from cloud water at the puy de Doˆme has been studied. Experiments were first conducted under model conditions and consisted of a pure strain incubated in the presence of a single organic compound. Kinetics showed the ability of the isolates to degrade atmospheric compounds at temperatures representative of low-altitude clouds (5°C and 17°C). Then, to provide data that can be extrapolated to real situations, microcosm experiments were developed. A solution that chemically mimicked the composition of cloud water was used as an incubation medium for microbial strains. Under these conditions, we determined that microbial activity would significantly contribute to the degradation of formate, acetate, and succinate in cloud water at 5°C and 17°C, with lifetimes of 0.4 to 69.1 days. Compared with the reactivity involving free radicals, our results suggest that biological activity drives the oxidation of carbonaceous compounds during the night (90 to 99%), while its contribution accounts for 2 to 37% of the reactivity during the day, competing with photochemistry.

Keywords:Pseudomonas strains,Sphingomonas strain,microbial strains,Pseudomonas, nitrate, chloride, sodium,biodegradation.

Corresponding author: Tel 33 473 40 77 14; fax 33 473 40 77 17.

E-mail: A-Marie.DELORT@univ-bpclermont.fr


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