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BioMed Central Page 1 of 8

Summary: BioMed Central
Page 1 of 8
(page number not for citation purposes)
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Open AccessResearch article
Environmental variability and modularity of bacterial metabolic
Merav Parter, Nadav Kashtan and Uri Alon*
Address: Molecular Cell Biology Department, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Email: Merav Parter - merav.parter@weizmann.ac.il; Nadav Kashtan - nadav.kashtan@weizmann.ac.il; Uri Alon* - uri.alon@weizmann.ac.il
* Corresponding author
Background: Biological systems are often modular: they can be decomposed into nearly-
independent structural units that perform specific functions. The evolutionary origin of modularity
is a subject of much current interest. Recent theory suggests that modularity can be enhanced when
the environment changes over time. However, this theory has not yet been tested using biological
Results: To address this, we studied the relation between environmental variability and modularity
in a natural and well-studied system, the metabolic networks of bacteria. We classified 117 bacterial
species according to the degree of variability in their natural habitat. We find that metabolic


Source: Alon, Uri - Departments of Molecular Cell Biology & Physics of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science


Collections: Biology and Medicine