Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2022-608
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2022-608
 
05 Sep 2022
05 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Effects of pH and light exposure on the survival of bacteria and their ability to biodegrade organic compounds in clouds: Implications for microbial activity in acidic cloud water

Yushuo Liu1,2, Chee Kent Lim1, Zhiyong Shen1, Patrick K. H. Lee1,3, and Theodora Nah1,2,3 Yushuo Liu et al.
  • 1School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
  • 2Shenzhen Research Institute, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China
  • 3State Key Laboratory of Marine Pollution, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Abstract. Recent studies have reported that interactions between live bacteria and organic matter can potentially affect the carbon budget in clouds, which has important atmospheric and climate implications. However, bacteria in clouds are subject to a variety of atmospheric stressors, which can adversely affect their survival and energetic metabolism, and consequently their ability to biodegrade organic compounds. At present, the effects of cloud water pH and solar radiation on bacteria are not well understood. In this study, we investigated how cloud water pH (pH 3 to 6) and exposure to solar radiation impact the survival and energetic metabolism of two Enterobacter bacterial strains that were isolated from an aerosol sample collected in Hong Kong and their ability to biodegrade carboxylic acids. Experiments were conducted using simulated sunlight (wavelength 320 to 700 nm) and microcosms comprised of artificial cloud water that mimicked the pH and chemical composition of cloud water in Hong Kong, South China. Our results showed that the energetic metabolism and survival of both strains depended on the pH. Low survival rates were observed for both strains at pH < 4 regardless whether the strains were exposed to simulated sunlight. At pH 4 to 5, the energetic metabolism and survival of both strains were negatively impacted only when they were exposed to simulated sunlight. Organic compounds such as lipids and peptides were detected during exposure to simulated sunlight at pH 4 to 5. In contrast, there were minimal effects on the energetic metabolism and survival of both strains when they were exposed to simulated sunlight at pH > 5. The biodegradation of carboxylic acids was found to depend on the presence (or absence) of simulated sunlight and the pH of the artificial cloud water medium. Comparisons of the measured biodegradation rates to chemical reaction rates indicated that the concentrations of radical oxidants will also play important roles in dictating whether biodegradation processes can serve as a competitive sink for carboxylic acids in cloud water. Overall, this study provides new insights into how two common atmospheric stressors, cloud water pH and exposure to solar radiation, can influence the survival and energetic metabolism of bacteria, and consequently the roles that they play in cloud processes.

Yushuo Liu et al.

Status: open (until 17 Oct 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Yushuo Liu et al.

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Short summary
We investigated how cloud water pH and solar radiation impact the survival and energetic metabolism of two neutrophilic bacteria species and their biodegradation of carboxylic acids. Experiments were performed using artificial cloud water that mimicked the pH and composition of cloud water in South China. We found that there is a minimum cloud water pH threshold at which neutrophilic bacteria will survive and biodegrade organic compounds in cloud water during the daytime and/or nighttime.
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