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Study suggests new pathway for phosphorus

Feb. 19, 2015--In summer, phosphorous cycling leads the center of the Chesapeake Bay to suffer from bottom water hypoxia, which makes it hard for oxygen dependent organisms to survive. Conversely, this cycling also causes surface water eutrophication, which leads to phytoplankton blooms.

In a new paper published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from the University of Delaware and other institutions have identified for the first time organic matter remineralization as the predominant pathway for the phosphorous cycling that occurs in the Chesapeake.

The research, led by Sunendra Joshi, a doctoral student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, includes UD’s Deb Jaisi, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Donald Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Francis Alison Professor, director of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) and a leader of the University’s Environmental Soil Chemistry Group.

The UD scientists collaborated with David Burdige, professor and Eminent Scholar in the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University; Ravi Kukkadapu, a senior research scientist at the Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; and Mark Bowden, a scientist at EMSL.