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Principles and Applications of Soil Microbiology
2021, 523-555

Phosphorus and selected metals and metalloids

Shiping Deng

Department of Plant and Soil Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, United States.


Microbial transformations of phosphorus and selected metals and metalloids are discussed in this chapter. Phosphorus (P) is an essential macronutrient, while iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and selenium (Se) are essential micronutrients for living organisms. Mercury (Hg) and arsenic (As) have no known essential function and can be toxic to living organisms. Microorganisms also play key roles in the formation of soil and sediment minerals, serving as nucleation sites for the formation of a variety of minerals. Therefore, microbially mediated transformations of these elements in soil are vital to plant and microbial nutrition and play critical roles in understanding and addressing environmental pollution. Discussion of these elements serves to illustrate the range of elemental cycling reactions performed by soil microorganisms.

Keywords: phosphorus, iron, manganese, mercury, selenium, arsenic, metal, metalloid, nutrient, toxicity.

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