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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1048
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1048
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 13 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 13 Jan 2020

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Biodegradation of phenol and catechol in cloud water: Comparison to chemical oxidation in the atmospheric multiphase system

Saly Jaber, Audrey Lallement, Martine Sancelme, Martin Leremboure, Gilles Mailhot, Barbara Ervens, and Anne-Marie Delort Saly Jaber et al.
  • Université Clermont Auvergne, CNRS, SIGMA Clermont, Institut de Chimie de Clermont-Ferrand, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

Abstract. The sinks of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere are usually described by oxidation reactions in the gas and aqueous (cloud) phases. Previous lab studies suggest that in addition to chemical processes, biodegradation by bacteria might also contribute to the loss of organics in clouds; however, due to the lack of comprehensive data sets on such biodegradation processes, they are not commonly included in atmospheric models. In the current study, we measured the biodegradation rates of phenol and catechol, which are known pollutants, by one of the most active strains selected during our previous screening in clouds (Rhodococcus enclensis). For catechol, biodegradation transformation is about ten times faster than for phenol. The experimentally derived biodegradation rates are included in a multiphase box model to compare the chemical loss rates of phenol and catechol in both the gas and aqueous phases to their biodegradation rate in the aqueous phase under atmospheric conditions. Model results show that the degradation rates in the aqueous phase by chemical and biological processes for both compounds are similar to each other. During daytime, biodegradation of catechol is even predicted to exceed the chemical activity in the aqueous phase and to represent a significant sink (17 %) of total catechol in the atmospheric multiphase system. In general, our results suggest that atmospheric multiphase models may be incomplete for highly soluble organics as biodegradation may represent an unrecognized efficient loss of such organics in cloud water.

Saly Jaber et al.
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Short summary
Current atmospheric multiphase models do not include biotransformations of organic compounds by bacteria although many previous studies of our and other research groups have shown microbial activity in cloud water. The current lab/model study shows that for water-soluble aromatic compounds, biodegradation by bacteria may be as efficient as chemical reactions in cloud water.
Current atmospheric multiphase models do not include biotransformations of organic compounds by...
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