Low molecular weight components in an aquatic humic substance as characterized by membrane dialysis and Orbitrap mass spectrometry

Christina K. Remucal, Rose M. Cory, Michael Sander, Kristopher McNeill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Suwannee River fulvic acid (SRFA) was dialyzed through a 100-500 molecular weight cutoff dialysis membrane, and the dialysate and retentate were analyzed by UV-visible absorption and high-resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry (MS). A significant fraction (36% based on dissolved organic carbon) of SRFA passed through the dialysis membrane. The fraction of SRFA in the dialysate had a different UV-visible absorption spectrum and was enriched in low molecular weight molecules with a more aliphatic composition relative to the initial SRFA solution. Comparison of the SRFA spectra collected by Orbitrap MS and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance MS (FT-ICR MS) demonstrated that the mass accuracy of the Orbitrap MS is sufficient for determination of unique molecular formulas of compounds with masses <600 Da in a complex mixture, such as SRFA. The most intense masses detected by Orbitrap MS were found in the 100-200 Da mass range. Many of these low molecular masses corresponded to molecular formulas of previously identified compounds in organic matter, lignin, and plants, and the use of the standard addition method provided an upper concentration estimate of selected target compounds in SRFA. Collectively, these results provide evidence that SRFA contains low molecular weight components that are present individually or in loosely bound assemblies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9350-9359
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume46
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 4 2012

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