Search KEGG Pathway Maps by Keyword in R

I was recently asked about how to list KEGG pathways not specific to any organism, which was not addressed in my previous post on accessing KEGG pathway from R.  Here, I post one example that shows you how to search KEGG pathway by keyword from R.

First, let’s define the function getKeggPathwayTable:

getKeggPathwayTable <- function(){
  pathway_link_REST_url <- ""
  kegg_pathways<- data.frame()

  current_row = 1
  for (line in readLines(pathway_link_REST_url)) {
    tmp <- strsplit(line, "\t")[[1]]
    map <- tmp[1]
    map <- strsplit(map, ":")[[1]][2]  
    pathway_name<- tmp[2]
    kegg_pathways[current_row, 1]=map
    kegg_pathways[current_row, 2]=pathway_name
    current_row = current_row + 1
  names(kegg_pathways) <- c("map_id","name")

Running the above function will give a data frame that lists all the current KEGG pathway IDs and names.

Next, lets define a function to search the data frame returned by getKeggPathwayTable by keyword.

searchKeggPathwayByKeyword <- function(keyword) {
  kegg_pathways <- getKeggPathwayTable()
  hits <- grep(keyword, kegg_pathways$name,

Note that I use “” to make sure that the search is not case sensitive. Now let’s try it with the keyword “vitamin” and “sucrose.”

> searchKeggPathwayByKeyword("vitamin")
      map_id                             name
110 map00750            Vitamin B6 metabolism
303 map04977 Vitamin digestion and absorption

> searchKeggPathwayByKeyword("sucrose")
     map_id                          name
60 map00500 Starch and sucrose metabolism

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