Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 2, issue 1
Biogeosciences, 2, 75–86, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2-75-2005
© Author(s) 2005. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Biogeosciences, 2, 75–86, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2-75-2005
© Author(s) 2005. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  04 Mar 2005

04 Mar 2005

Protein analysis in dissolved organic matter: What proteins from organic debris, soil leachate and surface water can tell us - a perspective

W. X. Schulze W. X. Schulze
  • Center for Experimental Bioinformatics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense, Denmark

Abstract. Mass spectrometry based analysis of proteins is widely used to study cellular processes in model organisms. However, it has not yet routinely been applied in environmental research. Based on observations that protein can readily be detected as a component of dissolved organic matter (DOM), this article gives an example about the possible use of protein analysis in ecology and environmental sciences focusing on different terrestrial ecosystems. At this stage, there are two areas of interest: (1) the identification of phylogenetic groups contributing to the environmental protein pool, and (2) identification of the organismic origin of specific enzymes that are important for ecosystem processes. In this paper, mass spectrometric protein analysis was applied to identify proteins from decomposing plant material and DOM of soil leachates and surface water samples derived from different environments. It is concluded, that mass spectrometric protein analysis is capable of distinguishing phylogenetic origin of proteins from litter protein extracts, leachates of different soil horizons, and from various sources of terrestrial surface water. Current limitation is imposed by the limited knowledge of complete genomes of soil organisms. The protein analysis allows to relate protein presence to biogeochemical processes, and to identify the source organisms for specific active enzymes. Further applications, such as in pollution research are conceivable. In summary, the analysis of proteins opens a new area of research between the fields of microbiology and biogeochemistry.

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