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Chemistry and the Environment Division (VI)


Number: 2006-014-1-600

Title: Biophysico-chemical processes involving natural nonliving organic matter in environmental systems

Task Group
Nicola Senesi

Members: Baoshan Xing and P.M. Huang

Overall goal is to provide the scientific and professional communities with an up-to-date and critical evaluation by the word-leading scientists on biophysico-chemical processes of natural nonliving organic matter (NOM) in various environmental compartments.

The specific objectives of this proposed book are to address:

(1) the fundamentals and the impact of mineral-organic matter-biota interactions on the formation, transformation, turnover, and storage of natural nonliving organic matter in various environmental systems, and
(2) the state-of-the-art analytical methods for investigating the biophysico-chemical processes involving NOM in nature.

The proposed book will also identify the gaps in knowledge on the subject matter and as such provide future directions to stimulate scientific research to advance the chemical science on biophysico-chemical interfacial reactions in natural habitats, leading to the subsequent development of innovative management strategies to sustain environmental quality and ecosystem health on a global scale. This book will be an important addition to the scientific literature and a valuable source of reference for students, professors, scientists and engineers.

Natural nonliving organic matter (NOM) is a very reactive, ubiquitous component in soil, sediment, water and air. It exerts a profound influence on many biophysico-chemical processes in the environment. For example, NOM exercises a vital role in soil quality and health by regulating the bioavailability and dynamic processes of metals, anthropogenic organic compounds and vital elements. NOM can be a major source of N, P, and S for plants, and a primary food and energy source that controls the ecological dynamics of soil and sediment biota.

NOM is composed of a mixture of complex molecules varying from low to high molecular weights, including diagenetically altered biopolymers and black carbons. Moreover, NOM can vary greatly, depending on its origin, transformation mode, age, and existing environment, thus its biophysico-chemical functions and properties vary with different environments. A better and more complete understanding of the formation, interactions with minerals, and turnover and storage of NOM and its biophysico-chemical roles in environmental systems is essential for the development of innovative management strategies for sustaining the environment.

Physical, chemical, and biological processes are not independent but rather interactive processes in the environmental systems. These fundamental interactive processes govern the genesis, nature, properties, transformation, and biophysico-chemical roles of NOM. However, little is known on the fundamentals of physicochemical and biological interfacial reactions and the impact on NOM in nature. To advance the frontiers of knowledge on the subject matter, it would require a concerted effort of scientists in relevant physical and life sciences such as chemistry, mineralogy, geochemistry, microbiology, ecology, and soil, atmospheric, and aquatic sciences. Environmental science is indeed the fusion of physical and life sciences. Scientific progress in advancing the understanding of NOM in the environment is based ultimately on unification rather than fragmentation of knowledge.

In contrast to the classical books which largely focus on separate physicochemical and biological aspects, this proposed book aims to integrate the frontiers of knowledge on the fundamentals and the impact of interfacial interactions of physicochemical and biological processes on NOM in soil, sediment, water, and air. This book would achieve this goal by bringing together world-renowned international scientists to integrate the current state-of -the-art, especially the latest discoveries, development, and future prospects on NOM (See Part I of the book).

By virtue of the heterogeneous and complex nature of NOM, no single available technique and instrument is satisfactory yet for the characterization and analysis of NOM. In order to fully understand the biophysico-chemical functions of NOM, it is critical to know chemical, structural and thermodynamic properties of NOM. Part II of this book will present the state-of-the-art analytical techniques and methods for studying NOM.

The proposed book is unique because of its multidisciplinary approach. It will provide a comprehensive and integrated coverage of NOM in various environments and associated analytical techniques, which is currently absent from the scientific literature.

It is proposed to have 18 chapters in two parts. Part I will have 12 chapters focusing on fundamentals and impacts of mineral-organic-biota interactions on the formation, transformation, turnover, and storage of NOM, and Part II will have 6 chapters on analytical methods for investigation of NOM (see 'Progress' below). The proposed chapter authors are leading international authorities on their subject matter.

Book draft contents (revised Nov 2006)

PART I. Fundamentals and impact of mineral-organic-biota interactions on the formation, transformation, turnover, and storage of natural nonliving organic matter (NOM)
  1. Evolution of environmental organic matter research
    M. H. B. Hayes (Ireland)
  2. Formation mechanisms of humic substances in the environment
    P. M. Huang and A. Hardie (Canada)
  3. Organo-mineral complexes in soils and sediments
    G. Chilom and J. A. Rice (USA)
  4. Carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems
    M. De Nobili (Italy)
  5. Storage and turnover of natural organic matter in soil
    M.S. Torn, C. Swanson, and S. E. Trumbore (USA)
  6. Black carbon and thermally altered organic matter: the role in the environment
    H. Knicker (Germany)
  7. Biological activities of humic substances
    S. Nardi, P. Carletti, D. Pizzeghello, and A. Muscolo (Italy)
  8. Role of humic substances in the rhizosphere
    R. Pinton, S. Cesco, and Z. Varanini (Italy)
  9. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in natural environments
    F. H. Frimmel and G. Abbt-Braun (Germany)
  10. Marine organic matter
    M. Perdue and R. Benner (USA)
  11. Natural organic matter in atmospheric particles
    A. da Costa Duarte and R. M. B. Oliveira Duarte (Portugal)
  12. The effect of organic matter amendment on native soil humic substances
    C. Plaza (Spain) and N. Senesi (Italy)

    . Analytical methods for investigation of natural nonliving organic matter
  13. Separation techniques of natural organic matter and humic substances
    I. Perminova (Russia) and Ph. Schmitt-Kopplin (Germany)
  14. Analytical pyrolysis and soft-ionization mass spectrometry
    P. Leinweber et al. (Germany)
  15. NMR analysis of natural organic matter
    A. Simpson and M. Simpson (Canada)
  16. Fluorescence, EPR, FTIR, Raman, and UV-visible spectroscopies
    L. Martin-Neto et al. (Brasil)
  17. Synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy
    J. Lehmann et al. (USA)
  18. Thermal analysis for advanced characterization of humic materials
    E. LeBoeuf (USA)

The book is to be published as the 2nd volume in the new IUPAC-Sponsored Wiley Book Series Biophysico-Chemical Processes in Environmental Systems; Series Editors: P.M. Huang and N. Senesi.
The first volume will be the outcome of IUPAC project #2004-003-3-600.

Last update: 29 January 2007


<project announcement published in Chem. Int. Nov/Dec 2006>

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