Biochemical networks display universal structure across projections and levels of organization

Harrison B. Smith, Hyunju Kim, Sara I. Walker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Biochemical reactions underlie all living processes. Like many systems, their web of interactions is difficult to fully capture and quantify with simple mathematical objects. Nonetheless, a huge volume of research has suggested many real-world systems-including biochemical systems-can be described simply as 'scale-free' networks, characterized by power-law degree distributions. More recently, rigorous statistical analyses upended this view, suggesting truly scale-free networks may be rare. We provide a first application of these newer methods across two distinct levels of biological organization: analyzing an ensemble of biochemical reaction networks generated from 785 ecosystem-level metagenomes and 1082 individual-level genomes (representing all domains of life). Our results confirm only a few percent of biochemical networks meet the criteria necessary to be more than super-weakly scale-free. We perform distinguishability tests across individual and ecosystem-level biochemical networks and find there is no sharp transition in the organization of biochemistry across distinct levels of the biological hierarchy-a result that holds across network projections. This suggests the existence of common organizing principles operating across different levels of biology, which can best be elucidated by analyzing all possible coarse-grained projections of biochemistry in tandem across scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages282-283
Number of pages2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Event2019 Conference on Artificial Life: How Can Artificial Life Help Solve Societal Challenges, ALIFE 2019 - Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: Jul 29 2019Aug 2 2019

Conference

Conference2019 Conference on Artificial Life: How Can Artificial Life Help Solve Societal Challenges, ALIFE 2019
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle upon Tyne
Period7/29/198/2/19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation

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  • Cite this

    Smith, H. B., Kim, H., & Walker, S. I. (2020). Biochemical networks display universal structure across projections and levels of organization. 282-283. Paper presented at 2019 Conference on Artificial Life: How Can Artificial Life Help Solve Societal Challenges, ALIFE 2019, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.