Long-chain diols (LCDs) occur widespread in marine environments and also in lakes and rivers. Transport of LCDs from rivers may impact the distribution of LCDs in coastal environments, however relatively little is known about the distribution and biological sources of LCDs in river systems. In this study, we investigated the distribution of LCDs in suspended particulate matter (SPM) of three river systems (Godavari, Danube, and Rhine) in relation with precipitation, temperature, and source catchments. The dominant long-chain diol is the C32 1,15-diol followed by the C30 1,15-diol in all studied river systems. In regions influenced by marine waters, such as delta systems, the fractional abundance of the C30 1,15-diol is substantially higher than in the river itself, suggesting different LCD producers in marine and freshwater environments. A change in the LCD distribution along the downstream transects of the rivers studied was not observed. However, an effect of river flow is observed; i.e., the concentration of the C32 1,15-diol is higher in stagnant waters such as reservoirs and during seasons with river low stands. A seasonal change in the LCD distribution was observed in the Rhine, likely due to a change in the producers. Eukaryotic diversity analysis by 18S rRNA gene sequencing of SPM from the Rhine showed extremely low abundances of sequences (i.e., 〈0.32% of total reads) related to known algal LCD producers. Furthermore, incubation of the river water with 13C-labeled bicarbonate did not result in 13C incorporation into LCDs. This indicates that the LCDs present are mainly of fossil origin in the fast-flowing part of the Rhine. Overall, our results suggest that the LCD producers in rivers predominantly reside in lakes or side ponds that are part of the river system.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut