Testing the growth rate and translation compensation hypotheses in marine bacterioplankton

Shira Givati, Xingyu Yang, Daniel Sher, Eyal Rahav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two different hypotheses have been raised as to how temperature affects resource allocation in microorganisms. The translation-compensation hypothesis (TCH) predicts that the increase in enzymatic efficiency with temperature results in fewer required ribosomes per cell and lower RNA:protein ratio. In contrast, the growth rate hypothesis (GRH) predicts that increasing the growth rate with temperature requires more ribosomes and hence a higher cellular RNA:protein. We tested these two hypotheses in laboratory cultures of Prochlorococcus and Alteromonas as well as over an annual cycle in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The RNA:protein of Alteromonas mostly decreased with temperature in accordance with the TCH, while that of Prochlorococcus increased with temperature, as predicted by the GRH. No support was found for either hypothesis in surface waters from the Eastern Mediterranean, whereas the fraction of phosphorus in RNA was positively correlated with per-cell bacterial production in the deep chlorophyll maximum, supporting the GRH in this niche. A considerable part of the cellular phosphorus was not allocated to RNA, DNA, phospholipids or polyphosphate, raising the question which cellular molecules contain these P reserves. While macromolecular quotas differed significantly between laboratory cultures and field samples, these were connected through a power law, suggesting common rules of resource allocation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1186-1199
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Applied Microbiology International and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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