Dissolved organic matter (DOM)

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is dissolved and colloidal organic material that passes through a filter with a mesh size of between ~0.1 and 1 microns [1]. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is the carbon component of the DOM. It can be found in three pools:

  1. a labile pool that has rapid turn-over rates;
  2. a semi-labile pool that has slower turnover rates (e.g. months); and
  3. a refractory pool that is not readily available biologically.

DOC/DOM is a source of carbon for bacterial growth. They also forms complexes with trace metals [2] and can absorb sunlight, thus reducing the amount of light that is available for phytoplankton and submerged aquatic plants. The solubilities of relatively insoluble toxicants, such as lindane, p,p’-DDT and PCBs can also be enhanced in the presence of DOC/DOM [3].

  1. Najjar. R.G. 1991. Marine biogeochemistry. In K.E. Trenberth (editor), Climate System Modeling, Cambridge University Press, pp. 241-280.
  2. Elder, J.F. 1988. Metal Biogeochemistry in Surface-Water Systems – A Review of Principles and Concepts. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1013.
  3. Chiou, C.T., Malcolm, R.L., Brinton, T.I., and Kile, D.E. 1986. Water solubility enhancement of some organic pollutants and pesticides by dissolved humic and fulvic acids. Environmental Science and Technology 20, 502-508.
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