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Inorganics in organics: quantification of organic phosphorus and sulfur and trace element speciation in natural organic matter using HPLC-ICP-MS

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Lechtenfeld, O. J. , Koch, B. P. , Geibert, W. , Ludwichowski, K. U. and Kattner, G. (2011): Inorganics in organics: quantification of organic phosphorus and sulfur and trace element speciation in natural organic matter using HPLC-ICP-MS , Analytical Chemistry, 83 , pp. 8968-8974 . doi: 10.1021/ac201765a
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A method is presented for the chemical characterization of natural organic matter (NOM). We combined reversed-phase chromatographic separation of NOM with high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. A desolvation technique was used to remove organic solvent derived from the preceding chromatographic separation. We applied our method to solid-phase extracted marine dissolved organic matter samples from South Atlantic and Antarctic surface waters. The method provided a direct and quantitative determination of dissolved organic phosphorus and sulfur in fractions of differing polarity and also allowed simultaneous speciation studies of trace elements. Dissolved organic carbon/phosphorus and carbon/sulfur ratios for the different chromatographic fractions of our two samples ranged between 341–3025 for C/P and 11–1225 for C/S. Differences in elemental distribution between the fractions were attributed to different biochemical environments of the samples. Sulfur was exclusively found in one hydrophilic fraction, while uranium showed a strong affinity to the hydrophobic fractions. Our method was designed to be easily adapted to other separation techniques. The elemental information will deliver valuable information for ultrahigh resolution molecular analyses.

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