Evaluating fluorescence spectroscopy as a tool to characterize cyanobacteria intracellular organic matter upon simulated release and oxidation in natural water.Water Res. 2015 Jan 01; 68:432-43.WR
Intracellular organic matter (IOM) from cyanobacteria may be released into natural waters following cell death in aquatic ecosystems and during oxidation processes in drinking water treatment plants. Fluorescence spectroscopy was evaluated to identify the presence of IOM from three cyanobacteria species during simulated release into natural water and following oxidation processes (i.e. ozone, free chlorine, chloramine, chlorine dioxide). Peak picking and the fluorescence index (FI) were explored to determine which IOM components (e.g., pigments) provide unique and persistent fluorescence signatures with minimal interferences from the background dissolved organic matter (DOM) found in Colorado River water (CRW). When IOM was added to ultrapure water, the fluorescence signature of the three cyanobacteria species showed similarities to each other. Each IOM exhibited a strong protein-like fluorescence and fluorescence at Ex 370 nm and Em 460 nm (FDOM), where commercial fluorescence sensors monitor. All species also had strong phycobiliprotein fluorescence (i.e. phycocyanin or phycoerythrin) in the higher excitation range (500-650 nm). All three IOM isolates had FI values greater than 2. When IOM was added to CRW, phycobiliprotein fluorescence was quenched through interactions between IOM and CRW-DOM. Mixing IOM and CRW demonstrated that protein-like and FDOM intensity responses were not a simple superposition of the starting material intensities, indicating that interactions between IOM and CRW-DOM fluorescing moieties were important. Fluorescence intensity in all regions decreased with exposure to ozone, free chlorine, and chlorine dioxide, but the FI still indicated compositional differences compared to CRW-DOM. The phycobiliproteins in IOM are not promising as a surrogate for IOM release, because their fluorescence intensity is quenched by interactions with DOM and decreased during oxidation processes. Increases in both FDOM intensity and FI are viable qualitative indicators of IOM release in natural waters and following oxidation and may provide a more robust real-time indication of the presence of IOM than conventional dissolved organic carbon or UV absorbance measurements.