Growth rate peaks at intermediate cell size in marine photosynthetic picoeukaryotes

Bec, Béatrice, Yves Collos, André Vaquer, David Mouillot, Philippe Souchu

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(2), 2008, 863-867 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.2.0863

ABSTRACT: We have performed an in situ test of Raven’s prediction that there is a reversal of the relationship between cell size and maximum achievable growth rate in unicellular algae at the low end of size classes. In a natural population of marine phytoplankton, including the smallest picoeukaryote known to date, and under both nutrient sufficiency and deficiency, we find a maximum in growth rate (4.8 and 3.3 divisions d-1, respectively) in the 2-3-µm size class represented by coccoid Chlorella-like cells, with lower growth rates in both higher and lower size classes. This 2-3-µm size class is also the most robust under nutrient deficiency, reducing its growth rate by 14% only relative to nutrient-sufficient conditions, versus 50-60% for the lowermost and uppermost size classes, respectively.

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