Network motif frequency vectors reveal evolving metabolic network organisation†
At the systems level many organisms of interest may be described by their patterns of interaction, and as such, are perhaps best characterised via network or graph models. Metabolic networks, in particular, are fundamental to the proper functioning of many important biological processes, and thus, have been widely studied over the past decade or so. Such investigations have revealed a number of shared topological features, such as a short characteristic path-length, large clustering coefficient and hierarchical modular structure. However, the extent to which evolutionary and functional properties of metabolism manifest via this underlying network architecture remains unclear. In this paper, we employ a novel graph embedding technique, based upon low-order network motifs, to compare metabolic network structure for 383 bacterial species categorised according to a number of biological features. In particular, we introduce a new global significance score which enables us to quantify important evolutionary relationships that exist between organisms and their physical environments. Using this new approach, we demonstrate a number of significant correlations between environmental factors, such as growth conditions and habitat variability, and network motif structure, providing evidence that organism adaptability leads to increased complexities in the resultant metabolic networks.