Background: Whole genome duplication (WGD) occurs widely in angiosperm evolution. It raises the intriguing question of how interacting networks of genes cope with this dramatic evolutionary event.
Results: In study of the Arabidopsis metabolic network, we assigned each enzyme (node) with topological centralities (in-degree, out-degree and between-ness) to measure quantitatively their centralities in the network. The Arabidopsis metabolic network is highly modular and separated into 11 interconnected modules, which correspond well to the functional metabolic pathways. The enzymes with higher in-out degree and between-ness (defined as hub and bottleneck enzymes, respectively) tend to be more conserved and preferentially retain homeologs after WGD. Moreover, the simultaneous retention of homeologs encoding enzymes which catalyze consecutive steps in a pathway is highly favored and easily achieved, and enzyme-enzyme interactions contribute to the retention of one-third of WGD enzymes.
Conclusions: Our analyses indicate that the hub and bottleneck enzymes of metabolic network obtain great benefits from WGD, and this event grants clear evolutionary advantages in adaptation to different environments.