Modeled temperature dependencies of macromolecular allocation and elemental stoichiometry in phytoplankton

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Warming oceans may affect how phytoplankton allocate nutrients to essential cellular processes. Despite the potential impact of such processes on future biogeochemical cycles, questions remain about how temperature affects macromolecular allocation and elemental stoichiometry within phytoplankton cells. Here, we present a macromolecular model of phytoplankton and the effect of increasing temperature on the intracellular allocation of nutrients at a constant growth rate. When temperature increases under nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) co-limitation, the model shows less investment in phosphorus-rich RNA molecules relative to nitrogen-rich proteins, leading to a more severe decrease in cellular P:C than N:C causing increased cellular N:P values. Under P limitation, the model shows a similar pattern, but when excess P is available under N limitation, we predict lowered N:P due to the effect of luxury uptake of P. We reflected our model result on the surface ocean showing similar latitudinal patterns in N:P and P:C to observation and other model predictions, suggesting a considerable impact of temperature on constraining the elemental stoichiometry in the ocean.

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Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal