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Cycles, phase synchronization, and entrainment in single-species phytoplankton populations


Massie, T M; Blasius, B; Weithoff, G; Gaedke, U; Fussmann, G F (2010). Cycles, phase synchronization, and entrainment in single-species phytoplankton populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 107(9):4236-4241.

Abstract

Complex dynamics, such as population cycles, can arise when the individual members of a population become synchronized. However, it is an open question how readily and through which mechanisms synchronization-driven cycles can occur in unstructured microbial populations. In experimental chemostats we studied large populations (> 10(9) cells) of unicellular phytoplankton that displayed regular, inducible and reproducible population oscillations. Measurements of cell size distributions revealed that progression through the mitotic cycle was synchronized with the population cycles. A mathematical model that accounts for both the cell cycle and population-level processes suggests that cycles occur because individual cells become synchronized by interacting with one another through their common nutrient pool. An external perturbation by direct manipulation of the nutrient availability resulted in phase resetting, unmasking intrinsic oscillations and producing a transient collective cycle as the individuals gradually drift apart. Our study indicates a strong connection between complex within-cell processes and population dynamics, where synchronized cell cycles of unicellular phytoplankton provide sufficient population structure to cause small-amplitude oscillations at the population level.

Complex dynamics, such as population cycles, can arise when the individual members of a population become synchronized. However, it is an open question how readily and through which mechanisms synchronization-driven cycles can occur in unstructured microbial populations. In experimental chemostats we studied large populations (> 10(9) cells) of unicellular phytoplankton that displayed regular, inducible and reproducible population oscillations. Measurements of cell size distributions revealed that progression through the mitotic cycle was synchronized with the population cycles. A mathematical model that accounts for both the cell cycle and population-level processes suggests that cycles occur because individual cells become synchronized by interacting with one another through their common nutrient pool. An external perturbation by direct manipulation of the nutrient availability resulted in phase resetting, unmasking intrinsic oscillations and producing a transient collective cycle as the individuals gradually drift apart. Our study indicates a strong connection between complex within-cell processes and population dynamics, where synchronized cell cycles of unicellular phytoplankton provide sufficient population structure to cause small-amplitude oscillations at the population level.

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26 citations in Web of Science®
29 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:10 Jul 2012 14:52
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:48
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0908725107
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-62330

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