A model of flexible uptake of two essential resources

C. A. Klausmeier, E. Litchman, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Microbes require multiple essential elements that they acquire from the environment independently. Here we investigate how microbial stoichiometry and uptake rates depend on the conditions in which they grow. We modify a recent model of growth based on a multinutrient extension of the Droop model to allow a trade-off between ability to acquire two essential resources. In a static analysis, we show that the optimal allocation strategy is the one that results in colimitation by both nutrients. We then add a dynamic equation to model the physiological acclimation uptake rates in changing conditions. This dynamic model predicts that the response of organismal stoichiometry to nutrient supply ratio can vary over time. The response of organismal stoichiometry and growth rate to a nutrient pulse depends on the speed at which cells adapt their uptake rates. In a variable environment, very fast or very slow acclimation may be better strategies than intermediate speed acclimation. We suggest experimental tests of the model and avenues for future model development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-289
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 21 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation


  • Adaptive dynamics
  • Chemostat
  • Microbes
  • Phytoplankton
  • Stoichiometry


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