During this 6th Great Extinction, freshwater quality is imperiled by upland terrestrial practices. Phosphorus, a macronutrient critical for life, can be a concerning contaminant when excessively present in waterways due to its stimulation of algal and cyanobacterial blooms, with consequences for ecosystem functioning, water use, and human and animal health. Landscape patterns from residential, industrial and agricultural practices release phosphorus at alarming rates and concentrations threaten watershed communities. In an effort to reconcile the anthropogenic effects of phosphorus pollution, several strategies are available to land managers. These include source reduction, contamination event prevention and interception. A total of 80% of terrestrial plants host mycorrhizae which facilitate increased phosphorus uptake and thus removal from soil and water. This symbiotic relationship between fungi and plants facilitates a several-fold increase in phosphorus uptake. It is surprising how little this relationship has been encouraged to mitigate phosphorus for water quality improvement. This paper explores how facilitating this symbiosis in different landscape and land-use contexts can help reduce the application of fertility amendments, prevent non-point source leaching and erosion, and intercept remineralized phosphorus before it enters surface water ecosystems. This literature survey offers promising insights into how mycorrhizae can aid ecological restoration to reconcile humans’ damage to Earth’s freshwater. We also identify areas where research is needed.
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