From measurements of metabolites to metabolomics: an 'on the fly' perspective illustrated by recent studies of carbon-nitrogen interactions

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2003 Apr;14(2):136-44. doi: 10.1016/s0958-1669(03)00023-5.


Techniques for surveying metabolite levels provide a powerful tool for basic plant research and biotechnology. They offer the possibility of specialised measurements of specific classes of metabolites, profiling of a very broad range of low molecular weight compounds, and resolving the spatial and/or temporal localisation of selected key metabolites. Recent applications in the field of carbon-nitrogen interactions provide a framework to discuss how metabolite datasets are being utilised in the post-genomic era to characterise system responses, link transcript data to phenotypic responses, analyse underlying regulation mechanisms, and implement an in-context analysis of gene function. A major future challenge concerns the integration of the information gained from metabolite profiling into an accessible body of knowledge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Metabolism / physiology*
  • Microchemistry / methods*
  • Nitrogen / chemistry
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen