Modelling phosphorus uptake in microalgae

Biochem Soc Trans. 2018 Apr 17;46(2):483-490. doi: 10.1042/BST20170262.


Phosphorus (P) is an essential non-renewable nutrient that frequently limits plant growth. It is the foundation of modern agriculture and, to a large extent, demand for P is met from phosphate rock deposits which are limited and becoming increasingly scarce. Adding an extra stroke to this already desolate picture is the fact that a high percentage of P, through agricultural runoff and waste, makes its way into rivers and oceans leading to eutrophication and collapse of ecosystems. Therefore, there is a critical need to practise P recovery from waste and establish a circular economy applicable to P resources. The potential of microalgae to uptake large quantities of P and use of this P enriched algal biomass as biofertiliser has been regarded as a promising way to redirect P from wastewater to the field. This also makes the study of molecular mechanisms underlying P uptake and storage in microalgae of great interest. In the present paper, we review phosphate models, which express the growth rate as a function of intra- and extracellular phosphorus content for better understanding of phosphate uptake and dynamics of phosphate pools.

Keywords: biological models; inorganic polyphosphates; phosphate; plant biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Biomass
  • Ecosystem
  • Eutrophication
  • Microalgae / growth & development
  • Microalgae / metabolism*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Phosphorus / metabolism*
  • Wastewater


  • Waste Water
  • Phosphorus