Are bacteria more like plants or animals? Growth rate and resource dependence of bacterial C

N:P stoichiometry

W. Makino, J. B. Cotner, R. W. Sterner, James Elser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

233 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1. We examined the relative importance of resource composition (carbon:phosphorus molar ratios which varied between 9 and 933) and growth rate (0.5-1.5 h-1) to biomass carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus stoichiometry and nucleic acid content in Escherichia coli grown in chemostats, and in other heterotrophic prokaryotes using published literature. 2. Escherichia coli RNA content and the contribution of RNA-P to total cellular P increased with increasing growth rate at all supply C:P ratios. Growth rate had a much stronger effect on biomass C:P than did supply C:P, and increased RNA content resulted in low biomass C:P and N:P ratios. 3. However, we observed only twofold variations in biomass C:P and N:P ratios in the experiments, despite a difference of two orders of magnitude in C:P and N:P supply. The response of biomass C:P and N:P ratios to alteration of the supply C:P and N:P ratios revealed that E. coli was strongly homeostatic in its elemental composition. 4. This result, and a literature survey, suggest that each heterotrophic bacterial strain regulates its elemental composition homeostatically within a relatively narrow range of characteristic biomass C:P and N:P ratios. 5. Thus shifts in the dominance of different bacterial strains in the environment are probably responsible for the large variation in bacterial biomass C:P, as has been suggested for crustacean zooplankton. These findings indicate that bacteria are more like animals than plants in terms of biomass C:P and N:P homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2003

Fingerprint

stoichiometry
bacterium
animal
biomass
bacteria
resource
animals
RNA
Escherichia coli
phosphorus
chemostat
carbon
prokaryote
homeostasis
nucleic acid
prokaryotic cells
nucleic acids
dominance (genetics)
crustacean
zooplankton

Keywords

  • C:N:P ratios
  • Growth rate hypothesis
  • Homeostasis
  • Nucleic acid
  • Phosphorus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Are bacteria more like plants or animals? Growth rate and resource dependence of bacterial C : N:P stoichiometry. / Makino, W.; Cotner, J. B.; Sterner, R. W.; Elser, James.

In: Functional Ecology, Vol. 17, No. 1, 02.2003, p. 121-130.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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