[Stoichiometric, my dear Watson!].

Abstract

Living organisms can be seen as complex chemicals interacting with their environment through chemical reactions. As such, they are subjected to the laws of stoichiometry: their constitutive elements (atoms) cannot be created (they must be found in their environment) nor destroyed. Acknowledging these rules led ecologists to the concept of "biological stoichiometry". In this review, I want to show that combining (1) the study of the elemental composition of biopolymers and (2) the ecologist's point of view, particularly the concept of biological stoichiometry, benefits molecular biology. In particular, this coupled approach unveils parts of the history of organisms, helps interpreting transcriptional profiles and sheds a different light on the growth of carcinogenic tumors.

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