Unified understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic controls of dissolved organic carbon reactivity in aquatic ecosystems
Journal article, 2022

Despite our growing understanding of the global carbon cycle, scientific consensus on the drivers and mechanisms that control dissolved organic carbon (DOC) turnover in aquatic systems is lacking, hampered by the mismatch between research that approaches DOC reactivity from either intrinsic (inherent chemical properties) or extrinsic (environmental context) perspectives. Here we propose a conceptual view of DOC reactivity in which the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors controls turnover rates and determines which reactions will occur. We review three major types of reactions (biological, photochemical, and flocculation) from an intrinsic chemical perspective and further define the environmental features that modulate the expression of chemically inherent reactivity potential. Finally, we propose hypotheses of how extrinsic and intrinsic factors together shape patterns in DOC turnover across the land-to-ocean continuum, underscoring that there is no intrinsic DOC reactivity without environmental context. By acknowledging the intrinsic–extrinsic control duality, our framework intends to foster improved modeling of DOC reactivity and its impact on ecosystem services.

dissolved organic carbon





Martin Berggren

Lund University

François Guillemette

University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres

Interuniversity Research Group in Limnology (GRIL)

Magdalena Bieroza

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Ishi Buffam

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Anne Deininger

Norwegian Institute for Water Research

University of Agder

Jeffrey A. Hawkes

Uppsala University

Dolly N. Kothawala

Uppsala University

Richard LaBrie

TU Bergakademie Freiberg

Université de Montréal

Interuniversity Research Group in Limnology (GRIL)

Jean François Lapierre

Université de Montréal

Interuniversity Research Group in Limnology (GRIL)

Kathleen Murphy

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Enass S. Al-Kharusi

Lund University

Mayra P.D. Rulli

Lund University

Geert Hensgens

Lund University

Hani Younes

Lund University

Urban Wuensch

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Water Environment Technology


0012-9658 (ISSN) 19399170 (eISSN)

Vol. 103 9 e3763

Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Physical Geography

Environmental Sciences





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