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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Jul 27;363(1502):2453-64. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2007.2230.

From empirical patterns to theory: a formal metabolic theory of life.

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Environment and Energy Section, Instituto Superior T├ęcnico, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal.


The diversity of life on Earth raises the question of whether it is possible to have a single theoretical description of the quantitative aspects of the organization of metabolism for all organisms. However, similarities between organisms, such as von Bertalanffy's growth curve and Kleiber's law on metabolic rate, suggest that mechanisms that control the uptake and use of metabolites are common to all organisms. These and other widespread empirical patterns in biology should be the ultimate test for any metabolic theory that hopes for generality. The present study (i) collects empirical evidence on growth, stoichiometry, feeding, respiration and energy dissipation and exhibits it as stylized biological facts; (ii) formalizes assumptions and propositions in a metabolic theory that is fully consistent with the Dynamic Energy Budget theory; and (iii) proves that these assumptions and propositions are consistent with the stylized facts.

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