Replication Data for: Ecological stoichiometry of functional traits in a colonial harmful cyanobacterium

  • Zhipeng Duan (Creator)
  • Xiao Tan (Creator)
  • Hans W. Paerl (Creator)
  • Dedmer Van de Waal (Creator)



Trait-based approaches provide a mechanistic framework crossing scales from cellular traits to community dynamics, while ecological stoichiometry applies first principles to understand how the balance of energy and elements shape ecological interactions. However, few studies have explicitly linked both frameworks. In this study, we tested the stoichiometric regulation of a number of carbon (C) based (e.g., extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) and colony formation) and nitrogen (N) containing traits (i.e., chlorophyll-a, phycocyanin and gas vesicle content) in cyanobacteria in laboratory experiments and in the field. We exposed the cosmopolitan colony forming freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis sp. in batch experiments to light, N and phosphorus (P) limitation, and enhanced CO2 levels, and assessed the regulation of these traits. Cyanobacterial traits followed stoichiometrically predictable patterns, where N containing traits increased with cellular N content, and decreased with increasing C:N ratios. C-based traits increased with cellular C content and C:N ratios under nutrient limitation, particularly N. The pattern of colony formation was confirmed with field data from Lake Taihu (China), showing an increase in colony size when N was limiting and N:P ratios were low. Our findings demonstrate how an explicit coupling of trait-based approaches to ecological stoichiometry can support our mechanistic understanding of responses of cyanobacteria towards shifts in resource availability.
Date made available12 Mar 2021

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