Internet databases of small molecules, their enzymatic reactions, and metabolism have emerged as useful tools in food science. Database searching is also introduced as part of chemistry or enzymology courses for food technology students. Such resources support the search for information about single compounds and facilitate the introduction of secondary analyses of large datasets. Information can be retrieved from databases by searching for the compound name or structure, annotating with the help of chemical codes or drawn using molecule editing software. Data mining options may be enhanced by navigating through a network of links and cross-links between databases. Exemplary databases reviewed in this article belong to two classes: tools concerning small molecules (including general and specialized databases annotating food components) and tools annotating enzymes and metabolism. Some problems associated with database application are also discussed. Data summarized in computer databases may be used for calculation of daily intake of bioactive compounds, prediction of metabolism of food components, and their biological activity as well as for prediction of interactions between food component and drugs.
Keywords: bioinformatics; biological activity; chemical information; database screening; education; food informatics; similarity search; structure search; text search.