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Soil microorganisms regulate extracellular enzyme production to maximize their growth rate
  • Salvatore Calabrese,
  • Binayak P. Mohanty,
  • Ashish A. Malik
Salvatore Calabrese
Texas A&M University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Binayak P. Mohanty
Texas A&M University, College Station
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Ashish A. Malik
University of Aberdeen
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Soil carbon cycling and ecosystem functioning can strongly depend on how microbial communities regulate their metabolism and adapt to changing environmental conditions to improve their fitness. Investing in extracellular enzymes is an important strategy for the acquisition of resources, but the principle behind the trade-offs between enzyme production and growth is not entirely clear. Here we show that the enzyme production rate per unit biomass may be regulated in order to maximize the biomass specific growth rate. Based on this optimality hypothesis, we derive mathematical expressions for the biomass specific enzyme production rate and the microbial carbon use efficiency, and verify them with experimental observations. As a result of this analysis, we also find that the optimal enzyme production rate decays hyperbolically with the soil organic carbon content. We then show that integrating the optimal extracellular enzyme production into microbial models may change considerably soil carbon projections under global warming, underscoring the need to improve parameterization of microbial processes.
Apr 2022Published in Biogeochemistry volume 158 issue 3 on pages 303-312. 10.1007/s10533-022-00899-8