Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Matthew A. PasekEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1187-4



Phosphite (HPO32−) is the anion of phosphorous acid (H3PO3), an oxide of phosphorus in which the phosphorus has a +3 valence state. In contrast to orthophosphate dissolved in solution, in phosphite one hydrogen atom is directly bound to the central P atom, instead of being bound through an O atom. Phosphite is more soluble in ocean water than phosphate. Oxidation of phosphite yields phosphate and, under certain conditions, also pyrophosphate and larger polyphosphates. Phosphite on the Earth may have originated from corrosion of iron-rich meteorites or from reduction of phosphate by lightning strikes or other high-energy events, and may have comprised some portion of the total phosphorus in the early Archean oceans.

See Also


Hydrogen Atom Total Phosphorus Phosphoric Acid Bioorganic Chemistry Ocean Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South FloridaTampaUSA