Quantitative steps in the evolution of metabolic organisation as specified by the Dynamic Energy Budget theory

Kooijman, S.A.L.M. and Troost, T. A. 2007. Quantitative steps in the evolution of metabolic organisation as specified by the Dynamic Energy Budget theory. Biol. Rev. 82: 1 - 30


The Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory quantifies the metabolic organisation of organisms on the basis of mechanistically inspired assumptions. We here sketch a scenario for how its various modules, such as maintenance, storage dynamics, development, differentiation and life stages could have evolved since the beginning of life. We argue that the combination of homeostasis and maintenance induced the development of reserves and that subsequent increases in the maintenance costs came with increases of the reserve capacity. Life evolved from a multiple reserves - single structure system (prokaryotes, many protoctists) to systems with multiple reserves and two structures (plants) or single reserve and single structure (animals). This had profound consequences for the possible effects of temperature on rates. We present an alternative explanation for what became known as the down-regulation of maintenance at high growth rates in microorganisms; the density of the limiting reserve increases with the growth rate, and reserves do not require maintenance while structure-specific maintenance costs are independent of the growth rate. This is also the mechanism behind the variation of the respiration rate with body size among species. The DEB theory specifies reserve dynamics on the basis of the requirements of weak homeostasis and partitionability. We here present a new and simple mechanism for this dynamics which accounts for the rejection of mobilised reserve by busy maintenance/growth machinery. This module, like quite a few other modules of DEB theory, uses the theory of Synthesising Units; we review recent progress in this field. The plasticity of membranes that evolved in early eukaryotes is a major step forward in metabolic evolution; we discuss quantitative aspects of the efficiency of phagocytosis relative to the excretion of digestive enzymes to illustrate its importance. Some processes of adaptation and gene expression can be understood in terms of allocation linked to the relative workload of metabolic modules in (unicellular) prokaryotes and organs in (multicellular) eukaryotes. We argue that the evolution of demand systems can only be understood in the light of that of supply systems. We illustrate some important points with data from the literature.

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