Sea Spray Aerosol Chamber Study on Selective Transfer and Enrichment of Free and Combined Amino Acids

Nadja Triesch, Manuela van Pinxteren, Matthew Salter, Christian Stolle, Ryan Pereira, Paul Zieger, Hartmut Herrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Free (FAAs) and combined amino acids (CAAs) were investigated on size-resolved samples of nascent sea spray aerosol (SSA) particles generated during controlled laboratory experiments. Compared to seawater, the amino acids were strongly enriched on the SSA particles. The enrichment factors (EFaer) on submicron SSA particles (EFaer∑FAA: 2.5 × 106 and EFaer∑CAA: 7.9 × 105) were 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than on supermicron ones (EFaer∑FAA: 1.0 × 105 and EFaer∑CAA: 7.3 × 104) and continuously increased toward smaller SSA particles. Molecular-level analysis showed that the more polar the FAAs, the more they are enriched on the SSA particles (especially FAAs with polar acid side chains, e.g., aspartic acid: EFaer of 5.8 × 106). Comparison of the amino acids present on nascent SSA with those present on ambient marine aerosol particles revealed a higher complexity of the amino acids of the nascent SSA, suggesting that atmospheric processes likely reduce the amino acid diversity. In addition, our results highlight that although almost all the amino acids studied are transferred to the atmosphere via bubble bursting under controlled conditions, two amino acids, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine likely have additional sources to the atmosphere. GABA is likely formed on ambient marine submicron aerosol particles to a large extent (35-47% of ∑FAA). Glycine likely originates from long-range transport processes or photochemical reactions, as discussed in the literature; however, our results highlight the potential for a direct oceanic source via bubble bursting (∼20% of ∑FAA). Overall, bubble-bursting-derived total amino acids made up 11-18% of the mass of dissolved organic carbon on the submicron SSA particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1564-1574
Number of pages11
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number6
Early online date20 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021


  • air-sea interaction
  • amino acids
  • enrichment factor
  • organic matter
  • sea spray aerosol chamber
  • transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


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