Towards reconstructing a metabolic tree of life

Bioinformation. 2007;2(4):135-44. doi: 10.6026/97320630002135. Epub 2007 Dec 11.


Using information from several metabolic databases, we have built our own metabolic database containing 434 pathways and 1157 different enzymes. We have used this information to construct a dendrogram that demonstrates the metabolic similarities between 282 species. The resulting species distribution and the clusters defined in the tree show a certain taxonomic congruence, especially in recent relationships between species. This dendrogram is another representation of the tree of life, based on metabolism that may complement the trees constructed by other methods. For example, the metabolic dissimilarity we demonstrate between Symbiobacterium thermophilum (previously defined as Actinobacteria) and the other Actinobacteria species, and the metabolic similarity between S. thermophilum and Clostridia, combined with other evidence, suggest that S. thermophilum may be re-classified as Firmicutes, Clostridia.

Keywords: dendogram; enzymes; metablic pathways; species; taxonomy.