The world is running out of cheap phosphorus, the element that lies at the heart of great agricultural advances and thorny environmental problems. Biologists are only now beginning
to understand what it means for evolution and human health.
Although a limnologist in Phoenix and a molecular biologist in Atlanta have never met before, a single element ties them together.
James Elser works at Arizona State University and studies aquatic life in lakes and streams. He has developed a fascination for the evolution of life from its earliest beginnings and worries about the damage an overabundance of phosphorus has done to our ecosystems and how its looming depletion will affect our lives.