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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2013;67:199-219. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-092412-155713. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Microbial contributions to phosphorus cycling in eutrophic lakes and wastewater.

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Department of Bacteriology.


Phosphorus is a key element controlling the productivity of freshwater ecosystems, and microbes drive most of its relevant biogeochemistry. Eutrophic lakes are generally dominated by cyanobacteria that compete fiercely with algae and heterotrophs for the element. In wastewater treatment, engineers select for specialized bacteria capable of sequestering phosphorus from the water, to protect surface waters from further loading. The intracellular storage molecule polyphosphate plays an important role in both systems, allowing key taxa to control phosphorus availability. The importance of dissolved organic phosphorus in eutrophic lakes and mineralization mechanisms is still underappreciated and understudied. The need for functional redundancy through biological diversity in wastewater treatment plants is also clear. In both systems, a holistic ecosystems biology approach is needed to understand the molecular mechanisms controlling phosphorus metabolism and the ecological interactions and factors controlling ecosystem-level process rates.

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