Thermodynamics of organisms in the context of dynamic energy budget theory

Sousa, T., Mota, R., Domingos,T. and Kooijman, S. A. L. M. 2006. Thermodynamics of organisms in the context of dynamic energy budget theory Physical Review E, 74: 05 1901, 1-15


We carry out a thermodynamic analysis to an organism. It is applicable to any type of organism because (1) it is based on a thermodynamic formalism applicable to all open thermodynamic systems and (2) uses a general model to describe the internal structure of the organism the dynamic energy budget DEB model. Our results on the thermodynamics of DEB organisms are the following. (1) Thermodynamic constraints for the following types of organisms: (a) aerobic and exothermic, (b) anaerobic and exothermic, and (c) anaerobic and endothermic; showing that anaerobic organisms have a higher thermodynamic flexibility. (2) A way to compute the changes in the enthalpy and in the entropy of living biomass that accompany changes in growth rate solving the problem of evaluating the thermodynamic properties of biomass as a function of the amount of reserves. (3) Two expressions for Thornton s coefficient that explain its experimental variability and theoretically underpin its use in metabolic studies. (4) A mechanism that organisms in non-steady-state use to rid themselves of internal entropy production: dilution of entropy production by growth. To demonstrate the practical applicability of DEB theory to quantify thermodynamic changes in organisms we use published data on Klebsiella aerogenes growing aerobically in a continuous culture. We obtain different values for molar entropies of the reserve and the structure of Klebsiella aerogenes proving that the reserve density concept of DEB theory is essential in discussions concerning a the relationship between organization and entropy and b the mechanism of storing entropy in new biomass. Additionally, our results suggest that the entropy of dead biomass is significantly different from the entropy of living biomass.

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