Next Article in Journal
In Defense of Gibbs and the Traditional Definition of the Entropy of Distinguishable Particles
Next Article in Special Issue
All in Action
Previous Article in Journal
Cybersemiotics: An Evolutionary World View Going Beyond Entropy and Information into the Question of Meaning
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Entropy 2010, 12(8), 1921-1935;

A Statistical Thermodynamical Interpretation of Metabolism

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 55455/55108, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 June 2010 / Accepted: 2 August 2010 / Published: 17 August 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Thermodynamics)
Full-Text   |   PDF [373 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]   |  


The metabolic network of a cell can be decomposed into discrete elementary modes that contribute, each with a certain probability, to the overall flux through the metabolism. These modes are cell function supporting, fundamental pathways that represent permissible ‘quantum’ states of the metabolism. For the case that cellular regulatory mechanisms for pathway fluxes evolved in an unbiased way, we demonstrate theoretically that the usage probabilities of individual elementary modes are distributed according to Boltzmann’s distribution law such that the rate of entropy production is maximized. Such distribution can be observed experimentally in highly evolved metabolic networks. Therefore, cell function has a natural tendency to operate at a maximum rate of entropy generation using preferentially efficient pathways with small reaction entropies. Ultimately, evolution of metabolic networks appears to be driven by forces that can be quantified by the distance of the current metabolic state from the state of maximum entropy generation that represents the unbiased, most probable selection of fundamental pathway choices. View Full-Text
Keywords: elementary flux modes; maximum entropy principle; metabolic networks; evolution elementary flux modes; maximum entropy principle; metabolic networks; evolution

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Srienc, F.; Unrean, P. A Statistical Thermodynamical Interpretation of Metabolism. Entropy 2010, 12, 1921-1935.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Entropy EISSN 1099-4300 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top