MEPS 489:87-92 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10434

Reassessment of the cell surface area limitation to nutrient uptake in phytoplankton

My Ha Dao*

Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM), Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), 1 CREATE Way, #09-03 CREATE Tower, Singapore 138602, Singapore

ABSTRACT: In many past theoretical and empirical studies of phytoplankton nutrient allometry, cell surface area has been considered the main limiting factor to nutrient uptake rates because of an assumption that the cell surface area is not large enough to accommodate enough uptake sites to meet the uptake demand. However, calculations in this paper show that the required uptake sites may only cover approximately 76% of the surface area of a typical phytoplankton cell. Cell volume could be the main factor controlling the maximum nutrient uptake rates of phytoplankton cells with a cell volume of <40 µm3, while the cell surface becomes limiting for larger cells. The maximum nutrient uptake rate of phytoplankton cells generally increases almost linearly with cell volume, and that of smaller cells increases faster than that of larger cells.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton · Nutrient uptake · Growth rate · Limitation · Cell surface · Cell volume · Allometry


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Cite this article as: Dao MH (2013) Reassessment of the cell surface area limitation to nutrient uptake in phytoplankton. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:87-92. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10434

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