Phosphorus is one of the most important macronutrients for the primary production. The transformation of dissolved organic phosphorus in the environment and its contribution to biological production in the different ecosystems is still a mystery. Recently, it was demonstrated that phosphate ester can be rapidly hydrolyzed in solutions containing iron oxide nanoparticles with enzyme kinetics. The catalyst is sensitive to temperature and pH changes and inhibited by tetrahedral oxyanions with an order of PO4 < MoO4 < WO4. The oxo-Fe structure in the iron oxide nanoparticles, like the metal center of natural phosphatase (e.g., purple acid phosphatase, PAP), might contribute to the observed catalytic activity. Iron oxide nanoparticles are very common and widely exist in the current earth environment, and phosphate esters are the main component of dissolved organic phosphorus in soil and waters. It is expected that iron oxide nanoparticles in aqueous environments, as an inorganic phosphatase, play a critical role for the phosphorus transformation from the view of the phosphorus cycle.
Part of the book: Nanocatalysts