Rapid advances in metagenomics and genome sequencing have led to the accumulation of vast amounts of empirical ecological data. With the increase in ecological data production, the need for robust automated functional community analysis approaches rises. The genomic-based construction of a communal metabolic network allows the investigation of the functional division between its participants, showing the metabolic hierarchy in the sampled environment. More specifically, such hierarchy allows the identification of key reaction allowing the environment-specific metagenome to make use of the available resources allowing, for example N- and S assembly as well as the utilization of complex carbohydrates. Taxonomic classification of such reactions further allows delineating the corresponding functional significance of species-groups and their specific contribution to the meta-level metabolism. Here, I will discuss the use of such metabolic network approaches for carrying a functio nal division analysis of communities in the rhizosphere and bulk soil environments based on RNA Seq data.
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