The origin of allometric scaling laws in biology

J Theor Biol. 2006 Dec 21;243(4):455-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.05.031. Epub 2006 Jun 7.


The empirical rules relating metabolic rate and body size are described in terms of (i) a scaling exponent, which refers to the ratio of the fractional change in metabolic rate to a change in body size, (ii) a proportionality constant, which describes the rate of energy expenditure in an organism of unit mass. This article integrates the chemiosmotic theory of energy transduction with the methods of quantum statistics to propose a molecular mechanism which, in sharp contrast to competing models, explains both the variation in scaling exponents and the taxon-specific differences in proportionality constants. The new model is universal in the sense that it applies to unicellular organisms, plants and animals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology*
  • Body Size / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Membranes / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Quantum Theory