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Phosphatases; Origin, Characteristics and Function in Lakes

  • Jansson M
  • Olsson H
  • Pettersson K
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Phosphatases catalyze the liberation of orthophosphate from organic phosphorus compounds. The total phosphatase activity in lake water results from a mixture of phosphatases localized on the cell surfaces of algae and bacteria and from dissolved enzymes supplied by autolysis or excretion from algae, bacteria and zooplankton. External lake water phosphatases usually have pH optima in the alkaline region. Acid phosphatases generally seem to be active in the internal cell metabolism. The synthesis of external alkaline phosphatases is often repressed at high phosphate concentrations and derepressed at low phosphate concentrations. Phosphatase activity has therefore been used as a phosphorus deficiency indicator in algae and in natural plankton populations. The possibilities for this interpretation of phosphatase activity in lake water are limited, however, and this is discussed. The in situ hydrolysis capacity, i.e. the rate by which orthophosphate is released from natural substrates, is unknown. However, we advocate that this process is important and that the rate of substrate supply, rather than phosphatase activity, limits the enzymatic phosphate regeneration.




Jansson, M., Olsson, H., & Pettersson, K. (1988). Phosphatases; Origin, Characteristics and Function in Lakes. In Phosphorus in Freshwater Ecosystems (pp. 157–175). Springer Netherlands.

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