Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient that affects the growth and metabolism of microalgal biomass. Despite the obvious importance of P, the dynamics of how it is taken up and distributed in microalgae are largely undefined. In this study, we tracked the fate of P during batch growth of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. We determined the distribution of P in intracellular polymeric substances (IPS), extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), and soluble microbial products (SMP) for three initial ortho-phosphate concentrations. Results show that the initial P concentration had no impact on the production of biomass, SMP, and EPS. While the initial P concentration affected the rate and the timing of how P was transformed among internal and external forms of inorganic P (IP) and organic P (OP), the trends were the same no matter the starting P concentration. Initially, IP in the bulk solution was rapidly and simultaneously adsorbed by EPS (IPEPS) and taken up as internal IP (IPint). As the bulk-solution's IP was depleted, desorption of IPEPS became the predominant source for IP that was taken up by the growing cells and converted into OPint. At the end of the 9-d batch experiments, almost all P was OP, and most of the OP was intracellular. Based on all of the results, we propose a set of transformation pathways for P during the growth of Synechocystis. Key is that EPS and intracellular P pool play important and distinct roles in the uptake and storage of P.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cyanobacterium
  • Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
  • Intracellular phosphorus pool
  • Phosphorus
  • Transformation pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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