Phosphorus supports photosynthesis, a process which is positive for terrestrial plants. But the same mechanism causes algal growth and the pollution of aquatic ecosystems.
This unwanted effect can be mitigated if the aquatic microalgae fertilised by phosphorus pollution are contained and harvested.
It’s a solution that has global application because microalgae thrive in ponds used by farmers and rural communities around the world to treat their wastewater effluents.
But wastewater treatment ponds do not currently remove phosphorus because the biomass generated during the degradation of organic pollutants can only assimilate small amounts of phosphorus and the biomass itself is not removed following treatment.