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Characterization of odorants in contrasting ecotypes of Lake Taihu: algae-dominated versus macrophyte-dominated zones

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Globally, odorant incidents are occurring at an increasing frequency, magnitude, and duration under the dual influences of eutrophication and climate change. However, the contribution of multiple ecotypes to odorant production in the complicated and dynamic lake ecosystems remains unclear. In this study, the odorants and environmental conditions in algae-dominated zones (ADZs) and macrophyte-dominated zones (MDZs) in Lake Taihu were identified and characterized. Results showed that the ADZs were characterized by an abundance of pigments and nutrients and low DO levels, while the MDZs were featured as high TOC/TN ratios and high DO levels. Most odorants in ADZs and several in MDZs exceeded the odorant threshold content. The dominant odorants were dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) and dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS), β-ionone and β-cyclocitral in ADZs, which were associated with the accumulation and decomposition of algal detritus. For MDZs, the dominant odorants were 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB) and geosmin, which were at least partially attributed to the massive addition of bait in a traditional aquaculture area. In addition, the odorant concentration in the water of ADZs was approximately 3 to 21 times higher than that in MDZs, while in the benthic sediment, the odorant concentration in ADZs was approximately 2 to 3 orders of magnitude higher than in MDZs. This study highlights the production and accumulation of nuisance odorants in the benthic sediment of ADZs, indicating a risk of diffusion from the sediment to the water column. This was supported by the correlation of odorants in the water column with that in the sediment. The results of this study will be helpful for the management of different ecotypes suffering from nuisance odorants problems.

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The support provided by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and China Scholarship Council (CSC) during a visit of Qi Chuang to Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology is acknowledged. Also, gratitude is extended to Xin-ting Wu for her encouragements and assistance in preparing this paper.


This research was supported by the National Water Pollution Control and Treatment Science and Technology Major Project (No. 2017ZX07203003), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41703105, 41573061).

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Correspondence to Guoxiang Wang or Limin Zhang.

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Qi, C., Fang, J., Wang, G. et al. Characterization of odorants in contrasting ecotypes of Lake Taihu: algae-dominated versus macrophyte-dominated zones. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020).

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  • Odorants
  • Algal blooms
  • Macrophyte metabolites
  • Lake Taihu