Evolutionary inheritance of elemental stoichiometry in phytoplankton.
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The elemental composition of phytoplankton is a fusion of the evolutionary history of the host and plastid, resulting in differences in genetic constraints and selection pressures associated with environmental conditions. The evolutionary inheritance hypothesis predicts similarities in elemental composition within related taxonomic lineages of phytoplankton. To test this hypothesis, we measured the elemental composition (C, N, P, S, K, Mg, Ca, Sr, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, Co, Cd and Mo) of 14 phytoplankton species and combined these with published data from 15 more species from both marine and freshwater environments grown under nutrient-replete conditions. The largest differences in the elemental profiles of the species distinguish between the prokaryotic Cyanophyta and primary endosymbiotic events that resulted in the green and red plastid lineages. Smaller differences in trace element stoichiometry within the red and green plastid lineages are consistent with changes in trace elemental stoichiometry owing to the processes associated with secondary endosymbioses and inheritance by descent with modification.