This review provides a critical assessment of knowledge regarding the determination of organic phosphorus (OP) and organic nitrogen (ON) in aquatic systems, with an emphasis on biogeochemical considerations and analytical challenges. A general background on organic phosphorus and organic nitrogen precedes a discussion of sample collection, extraction, treatment/conditioning and preconcentration of organic phosphorus/nitrogen from sediments, including suspended particulate matter, and waters, including sediment porewaters. This is followed by sections on the determination of organic phosphorus/nitrogen components. Key techniques covered for organic phosphorus components are molecular spectrometry, atomic spectrometry and enzymatic methods. For nitrogen the focus is on the measurement of total organic nitrogen concentrations by carbon hydrogen nitrogen analysis and high temperature combustion, and organic nitrogen components by gas chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, gel electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, X-ray techniques and enzymatic methods. Finally future trends and needs are discussed and recommendations made. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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