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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 473 - Feature article
Droop's cell-quota model of growth rate as a function of cell quota (dark blue curve) represents optimal allocation of phytoplankton cellular N (QN) between light harvesting (green disks) and nutrient acquisition (blue discs with pipes). The optimal allocation responds to the availability (width of light blue and yellow arrows) of both nutrients and light. Diagram: M. Pahlow

Pahlow M, Oschlies A


Optimal allocation backs Droop’s cell-quota model


Pahlow & Oschlies show that Droop’s cell-quota model of phytoplankton growth can be taken to represent optimal physiological regulation within a phytoplankton cell. The optimality condition is derived from resource requirements of different cellular functions, and it maximises growth rate by balancing cellular N demands of light harvesting and nutrient acquisition, given the amount of N bound in structural material. The constraint imposed by the maximal N cell quota on the cost of N acquisition in the model makes it possible to differentiate between respiration costs of N acquisition and of light harvesting. Thus, this derivation improves our mechanistic understanding of phytoplankton physiology in terms of both CO2 fixation (gains) and respiration (losses).


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