Microbial decomposition of dissolved organic matter and its control during a sorption experiment

L. X. Zhou, Jonathan W C WONG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes a detailed investigation on the effect of microbial activity on apparent dissolved organic matter (DOM) sorption in batch experiments and means to control it. The adsorption and decomposition dynamics of DOM derived from three organic wastes (green manure, pig manure, and sewage sludge) were performed at 4 or 22°C in the presence and absence of 5 mM NaN3. No DOM decomposition occurred in sorption experiments performed at 4 or 22°C receiving NaN3, while significant reduction was noted at 22°C without NaN3 addition after 24 h shaking. The sequence of DOM susceptibility to microbial decomposition in a 24-h period was: green manure > pig manure > sewage sludge. A shaking period of 2 h was found too short for notable microbial activity as compared with that of 24 h shaking but long enough to achieve equilibrium adsorption at 22°C. Therefore, sorption experiments performed at ambient temperatures with a long equilibrium period will overestimate the amount of DOM adsorbed and lead to an incorrect interpretation of the DOM adsorption behavior because of the involvement of microbial decay of DOM. It is recommended that batch equilibrium DOM adsorption studies be performed at either 4°C for 24 h or at ambient temperatures for 2 h, while addition of 2.5 to 5 mM of NaN3 is also a possible alternative for an equilibrium period of > 2 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1852-1856
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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