A physiological, unbalanced model is presented that explicitly describes growth of the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium sp. at the expense of N2 (diazotrophy). The model involves the dynamics of intracellular reserves of carbon and nitrogen and allows the uncoupling of the metabolism of these elements. The results show the transient dynamics of N2 fixation when combined nitrogen (NO3–, NH4+) is available and the increased rate of N2 fixation when combined nitrogen is insufficient to cover the demand. The daily N2 fixation pattern that emerges from the model agrees with measurements of rates of nitrogenase activity in laboratory cultures of Trichodesmium sp. Model simulations explored the influence of irradiance levels and the length of the light period on fixation activity and cellular carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry. Changes in the cellular C/N ratio resulted from allocations of carbon to different cell compartments as demanded by the growth of the organism. The model shows that carbon availability is a simple and efficient mechanism to regulate the balance of carbon and nitrogen fixed (C/N ratio) in filaments of cells. The lowest C/N ratios were obtained when the light regime closely matched nitrogenase dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Journal publication date2006

ID: 255423