Goldman revisited

Faster-growing phytoplankton has lower N: P and lower stoichiometric flexibility

Helmut Hillebrand, Georg Steinert, Maarten Boersma, Arne Malzahn, Cédric Léo Meunier, Christoph Plum, Robert Ptacnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In their seminal paper, Goldman et al. suggested that phytoplankton close to maximum growth rate attains a restricted optimal N: P ratio close to the Redfield ratio of molar N: P = 16. Recently, the presence of such a global attractor for optimal phytoplankton stoichiometry has been questioned in models and empirical analyses. As the chemical composition of phytoplankton is of major importance for our understanding of global elemental cycles and biogeochemical transformations, we assembled 55 data sets of phytoplankton growth rate and biomass N: P ratios in a meta-analysis testing (1) whether phytoplankton N: P converges at high growth rates, (2) whether N: P ratios scale with growth rate, and (3) whether the optimal N: P ratios achieved at highest growth rates reflect organism traits or environmental conditions. Across systems and species, phytoplankton N: P decreased with increasing growth rate and at the same time showed decreasing variance, i.e., fast-growing phytoplankton is more P rich and has a more confined elemental composition. Optimal N: P increased with increasing N: P of available nutrients, i.e., with increasing P limitation. Other differences were rare, except cyanobacteria showed higher optimal N: P than diatoms. Understanding the role of phytoplankton in biogeochemical transformation requires modeling approaches that are stoichiometrically flexible to reflect the dynamics of growth and nutrient supply in primary producers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2076-2088
Number of pages13
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Volume58
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

phytoplankton
Redfield ratio
Bacillariophyceae
nutrient
meta-analysis
nutrients
stoichiometry
Cyanobacteria
cyanobacterium
diatom
chemical composition
environmental conditions
environmental factors
biomass
organisms
modeling
testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science

Cite this

Hillebrand, H., Steinert, G., Boersma, M., Malzahn, A., Meunier, C. L., Plum, C., & Ptacnik, R. (2013). Goldman revisited: Faster-growing phytoplankton has lower N: P and lower stoichiometric flexibility. Limnology and Oceanography, 58(6), 2076-2088. https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2013.58.6.2076

Goldman revisited : Faster-growing phytoplankton has lower N: P and lower stoichiometric flexibility. / Hillebrand, Helmut; Steinert, Georg; Boersma, Maarten; Malzahn, Arne; Meunier, Cédric Léo; Plum, Christoph; Ptacnik, Robert.

In: Limnology and Oceanography, Vol. 58, No. 6, 2013, p. 2076-2088.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hillebrand, H, Steinert, G, Boersma, M, Malzahn, A, Meunier, CL, Plum, C & Ptacnik, R 2013, 'Goldman revisited: Faster-growing phytoplankton has lower N: P and lower stoichiometric flexibility', Limnology and Oceanography, vol. 58, no. 6, pp. 2076-2088. https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2013.58.6.2076
Hillebrand, Helmut ; Steinert, Georg ; Boersma, Maarten ; Malzahn, Arne ; Meunier, Cédric Léo ; Plum, Christoph ; Ptacnik, Robert. / Goldman revisited : Faster-growing phytoplankton has lower N: P and lower stoichiometric flexibility. In: Limnology and Oceanography. 2013 ; Vol. 58, No. 6. pp. 2076-2088.
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