Critical review of polyphosphate and polyphosphate accumulating organisms for agricultural water quality management

Sheila M. Saia, Hunter J. Carrick, Anony R. Buda, John M. Regan, M. Todd Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Despite ongoing management efforts, phosphorus (P) loading from agricultural landscapes continues to impair water quality. Wastewater treatment research has enhanced our knowledge of microbial mechanisms influencing P cycling, especially regarding microbes known as polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs) at store P as polyphosphate (polyP) under oxic conditions and release P under anoxic conditions. However, ere is limited application of PAO research to reduce agricultural P loading and improve water quality. Herein, we conducted a meta-Analysis to identify articles in Web of Science on polyP and its use by PAOs across five disciplines (i.e., wastewater treatment, terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and agriculture). We also summarized research at provides preliminary support for PAO-mediated P cycling in natural habitats. Terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and agriculture disciplines had fewer polyP and PAO articles compared to wastewater treatment, wi agriculture consistently having e least. Most metaanalysis articles did not overlap disciplines. We found preliminary support for PAOs in natural habitats and identified several knowledge gaps and research opportunities. There is an urgent need for interdisciplinary research linking PAOs, polyP, and oxygen availability wi existing knowledge of P forms and cycling mechanisms in natural and agricultural environments to improve agricultural P management strategies and achieve water quality goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2722-2742
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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