Global aspects of metabolism; On the coevolution of life and its environment

Kooijman, S. A. L. M. 2004. Global aspects of metabolism; On the coevolution of life and its environment. In: Schneider, S.H., Miller, J.R., Crist, E. and Boston, P.J. (eds) Scientists Debate Gaia; the next century., MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. chapter 30, 343 - 351.


The value of mathematical models in research such as that into the interaction of life and its physical-chemical environment on an evolutionary time scale depends on the way these models are constructed. After an empirical descriptive start in the last decades, the time is ripe to try an approach based on mechanisms and rst principles, such as energy and mass balances, stoichiometric constraints on the synthesis of biomass and surface area/volume relationships that are involved in mass transport and transformation. The Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory for the uptake and use of substrates by organisms seems to be up for such a task, but a lot of work still needs to be done. Stock is taken of the main points of interaction between life and its environment, and recent developments in the DEB theory are indicated that aim at understanding the processes of symbioses between organisms and self-organisation at the eco-system level. The hope is that will lead towards a sophistication of models for the development and sustainment of life, along the lines we have witnessed in the field of physical climate modelling.

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