Phosphorus as an integral component of global marine biogeochemistry

Solange Duhamel, Julia M. Diaz, Jamee C. Adams, Kahina Djaoudi, Viktoria Steck, Emily M. Waggoner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Phosphorus (P) is essential for life, but most of the global surface ocean is P depleted, which can limit marine productivity and affect ecosystem structure. Over recent decades, a wealth of new knowledge has revolutionized our understanding of the marine P cycle. With a revised residence time (~10–20 kyr) that is similar to nitrate and a growing awareness that P transformations are under tight and elaborate microbial control, the classic textbook version of a tectonically slow and biogeochemically simple marine P cycle has become outdated. P moves throughout the world’s oceans with a higher level of complexity than has ever been appreciated before, including a vast, yet poorly understood, P redox cycle. Here, we illustrate an oceanographically integral view of marine P by reviewing recent advances in the coupled cycles of P with carbon, nitrogen and metals in marine systems. Through this lens, P takes on a more dynamic and connected role in marine biogeochemistry than previously acknowledged, which points to unclear yet profound potential consequences for marine ecosystems, particularly under anthropogenic influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-368
Number of pages10
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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