Terrestrial dissolved organic matter inputs drive the temporal dynamics of riverine bacterial ecological networks and assembly processes

Lei Zhou*, Yonghong Wu, Yongqiang Zhou, Yunlin Zhang, Hai Xu, Kyoung Soon Jang, Jan Dolfing, Robert G.M. Spencer, Erik Jeppesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rivers receive, transport, and are reactors of terrestrial dissolved organic matter (DOM) and are highly influenced by changes in hydrological conditions and anthropogenic disturbances, but the effect of DOM composition on the dynamics of the bacterial community in rivers is poorly understood. We conducted a seasonal field sampling campaign at two eutrophic river mouth sites to examine how DOM composition influences the temporal dynamics of bacterial community networks, assembly processes, and DOM-bacteria associations. DOM composition and seasonal factors explained 34.7% of the variation in bacterial community composition, and 14.4% was explained purely by DOM composition where specific UV absorbance (SUVA254) as an indicator of aromaticity was the most important predictor. Significant correlations were observed between SUVA254 and the topological features of subnetworks of interspecies and DOM-bacteria associations, indicating that high DOM aromaticity results in more complex and connected networks of bacteria. The bipartite networks between bacterial taxa and DOM molecular formulae (identified by ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry) further revealed less specialized bacterial processing of DOM molecular formulae under the conditions of high water level and DOM aromaticity in summer than in winter. A shift in community assembly processes from stronger homogeneous selection in summer to higher stochasticity in winter correlated with changes in DOM composition, and more aromatic DOM was associated with greater similarity in bacterial community composition. Our results highlight the importance of DOM aromaticity as a predictor of the temporal dynamics of riverine bacterial community networks and assembly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120955
JournalWater Research
Early online date1 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

Cite this