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Keywords:

  • chemical diversity;
  • ecology;
  • evolution;
  • functional genomics;
  • herbivore;
  • plant

Abstract

Metabolomics is a fast developing field of comprehensive untargeted chemical analyses. It has many applications and can in principle be used on any organism without prior knowledge of the metabolome or genome. The amount of functional information that is acquired with metabolomics largely depends on whether a metabolome database has been developed for the focal species. Metabolomics is a level downstream from transcriptomics and proteomics and has been widely advertised as a functional genomics and systems biology tool. Indeed, it has been successfully applied to link phenotypes to genotypes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Metabolomics is also increasingly being used in ecology (ecological metabolomics) and environmental sciences (environmental metabolomics). In ecology, the technique has led to novel insights into the mechanisms of plant resistance to herbivores. Some of the most commonly used analytical metabolomic platforms are briefly discussed in this review, as well as their limitations. We will mainly focus on the application of metabolomics in plant ecology and genetics.