Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics to elucidate functions in marine organisms and ecosystems

Mar Drugs. 2012 Apr;10(4):849-80. doi: 10.3390/md10040849. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Marine systems are very diverse and recognized as being sources of a wide range of biomolecules. This review provides an overview of metabolite profiling based on mass spectrometry (MS) approaches in marine organisms and their environments, focusing on recent advances in the field. We also point out some of the technical challenges that need to be overcome in order to increase applications of metabolomics in marine systems, including extraction of chemical compounds from different matrices and data management. Metabolites being important links between genotype and phenotype, we describe added value provided by integration of data from metabolite profiling with other layers of omics, as well as their importance for the development of systems biology approaches in marine systems to study several biological processes, and to analyze interactions between organisms within communities. The growing importance of MS-based metabolomics in chemical ecology studies in marine ecosystems is also illustrated.

Keywords: GC-MS; LC-MS; chemical ecology; databases; mass spectrometry; metabolomics; systems biology; targeted and untargeted profiling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms / metabolism*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metabolomics / methods*