Polyphosphate phosphorus in the Great Lakes

Xingyu Yang, Rixuan Gao, Audrey Huff, Sergei Katsev, Ted Ozersky, Jiying Li

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Polyphosphate (polyP) is important to phytoplankton ecology, but a unified view of its variability and roles in ecosystem-scale phosphorus (P) cycling is lacking. We study polyP in the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, the Laurentian Great Lakes, covering pelagic to nearshore areas across a wide nutrient gradient. We show that polyP (average 10.99 ± 3.90 nmol L−1) constitutes 3.8–30.2% (average 18.1 ± 7.2%) of total particulate P (TPP). PolyP accumulation is higher in low-P pelagic waters compared with more productive nearshore areas. PolyP is preferentially degraded in the water column of the Great Lakes, enhancing P recycling and relieving the nitrogen (N) : P imbalance. Our data enables a coherent large-scale freshwater-to-oceanic comparison. We show that while different plankton groups accumulate different levels of polyP with smaller plankton accumulating more, P availability is the key driver of polyP variability within and across systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLimnology And Oceanography Letters
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography Letters published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.


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