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The size dependence of phytoplankton growth rates: a trade-off between nutrient uptake and metabolism

The size dependence of phytoplankton growth rates: a trade-off between nutrient uptake and metabolism
The size dependence of phytoplankton growth rates: a trade-off between nutrient uptake and metabolism
Rates of metabolism and population growth are often assumed to decrease universally with increasing organism size. Recent observations have shown, however, that maximum population growth rates among phytoplankton smaller than ∼6 μm in diameter tend to increase with organism size. Here we bring together observations and theory to demonstrate that the observed change in slope is attributable to a trade-off between nutrient uptake and the potential rate of internal metabolism. Specifically, we apply an established model of phytoplankton growth to explore a trade-off between the ability of cells to replenish their internal quota (which increases with size) and their ability to synthesize new biomass (which decreases with size). Contrary to the metabolic theory of ecology, these results demonstrate that rates of resource acquisition (rather than metabolism) provide the primary physiological constraint on the growth rates of some of the smallest and most numerically abundant photosynthetic organisms on Earth.
0003-0147
170-177
Ward, Ben A.
9063af30-e344-4626-9470-8db7c1543d05
Marañón, Emilio
a16cde2f-67db-4426-bab5-b3ae8e95311e
Sauterey, Boris
75b0769b-1403-47c0-9f09-95356c9b9ef1
Rault, Jonathan
f7aaa733-e5b5-4fac-b121-d72081ed8d16
Claessen, David
aa19f919-2cd1-4e9c-8f0c-bd47587b9c94
Ward, Ben A.
9063af30-e344-4626-9470-8db7c1543d05
Marañón, Emilio
a16cde2f-67db-4426-bab5-b3ae8e95311e
Sauterey, Boris
75b0769b-1403-47c0-9f09-95356c9b9ef1
Rault, Jonathan
f7aaa733-e5b5-4fac-b121-d72081ed8d16
Claessen, David
aa19f919-2cd1-4e9c-8f0c-bd47587b9c94

Ward, Ben A., Marañón, Emilio, Sauterey, Boris, Rault, Jonathan and Claessen, David (2017) The size dependence of phytoplankton growth rates: a trade-off between nutrient uptake and metabolism. The American Naturalist, 189 (2), 170-177. (doi:10.1086/689992).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Rates of metabolism and population growth are often assumed to decrease universally with increasing organism size. Recent observations have shown, however, that maximum population growth rates among phytoplankton smaller than ∼6 μm in diameter tend to increase with organism size. Here we bring together observations and theory to demonstrate that the observed change in slope is attributable to a trade-off between nutrient uptake and the potential rate of internal metabolism. Specifically, we apply an established model of phytoplankton growth to explore a trade-off between the ability of cells to replenish their internal quota (which increases with size) and their ability to synthesize new biomass (which decreases with size). Contrary to the metabolic theory of ecology, these results demonstrate that rates of resource acquisition (rather than metabolism) provide the primary physiological constraint on the growth rates of some of the smallest and most numerically abundant photosynthetic organisms on Earth.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 12 October 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 12 December 2016
Published date: 1 February 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 416695
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/416695
ISSN: 0003-0147
PURE UUID: 4544e7e8-4cc3-4dae-ad70-5c143425d349

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Date deposited: 05 Jan 2018 17:30
Last modified: 09 Dec 2019 18:27

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