Phosphorus acts as a catalyst. When fertilizer is added to plants, it is often thought of to assist in allowing them to grow quicker and stronger. This is due to the phosphorus in the fertilizer. Phosphorus speeds up plant growth as well as the quality of plant growth.
Phosphorus is also a key component in the structures of life. It is found linking DNA and RNA together and being found in bones of animals. Phosphorus is also involved in ATP. ATP forms during photosynthesis.
Phosphorus is used by plants in photosynthesis. When there is less phosphorus during photosynthesis, the production of sugars are restricted. This directly effects the color of the plant. Phosphorus deficient plants will not be green but have a purple hue to them. A lack of sugar in the plants will restrict the growth of the plant since sugar is the main source of energy in a plant.
Phosphorus is absorbed into the soil when rock is broken apart and washed into the soil. Plants absorb the phosphorus through the roots and use this to aid in photosynthesis. When animals eat plants, or when carnivores eat herbivores, the phosphorus is absorbed into the animal. The phosphorus is returned to the soil in the form of excretions such as urine and feces.
However, phosphorus in large amounts can be detrimental to ecosystems. Since it is a catalyst, it can cause plants to grow rapidly and sometimes quicker than needed. An example is algae. Phosphorus in excess will cause algae to grow too fast which in turn lowers oxygen for other aquatic life.
Phosphorus is vital to the environment because it allows plant growth that is necessary to keep the ecosystem balanced and flourishing. It allows plants to grow robust to feed the animals that eat them. Healthier plants also allow more oxygen to be released in the air. In manageable amounts, phosphorus can help any ecosystem thrive by providing more food and oxygen.