Understanding stoichiometric constraints on growth using resource use efficiency imbalances

Clay Prater, Tin Phan, James J. Elser, Punidan D. Jeyasingh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth is a function of the net accrual of resources by an organism. Energy and elemental contents of organisms are dynamically linked through their uptake and allocation to biomass production, yet we lack a full understanding of how these dynamics regulate growth rate. Here, we develop a multivariate imbalance framework, the growth efficiency hypothesis, linking organismal resource contents to growth and metabolic use efficiencies, and demonstrate its effectiveness in predicting consumer growth rates under elemental and food quantity limitation. The relative proportions of carbon (%C), nitrogen (%N), phosphorus (%P), and adenosine triphosphate (%ATP) in consumers differed markedly across resource limitation treatments. Differences in their resource composition were linked to systematic changes in stoichiometric use efficiencies, which served to maintain relatively consistent relationships between elemental and ATP content in consumer tissues and optimize biomass production. Overall, these adjustments were quantitatively linked to growth, enabling highly accurate predictions of consumer growth rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2319022121
Pages (from-to)e2319022121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 7 2024


  • carbon
  • ecological stoichiometry
  • nitrogen
  • nutritional physiology
  • phosphorus
  • Carbon/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Models, Biological
  • Adenosine Triphosphate/metabolism
  • Biomass
  • Phosphorus/metabolism
  • Nitrogen/metabolism


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