Wishart Node of The Metabolomics Innovation Centre

What is Metabolomics?

Metabolomics is the study of small molecules called metabolites.

Metabolomics is an emerging field of “omics” research specializing in the near-global analysis of small-molecule metabolites (<1500 daltons) found in living organisms.  Metabolomics is applicable in many disciplines including disease diagnostics, agriculture, food and safety, and pharmaceutical research and development, just to mention a few. The use of metabolomics allows for the discovery of biomarkers, which in turn leads to the development of improved screening methods.

Here are some examples of what the field of metabolomics can do:

  • identify and quantify new chemical biomarkers associated with diseases and disease symptoms;
  • assess the physiological effects of drugs or foods on human health;
  • characterize the precise chemical composition of biofuels and biofuel feedstock, including metabolites, lipids, and carbohydrates;
  • map genotypic changes to quantifiable metabolic outputs;
  • assist in the metabolic engineering of both microbes and plants;
  • facilitate the design, testing, monitoring, and optimization of microbial fermentation processes;
  • comprehensively characterize the phytochemical and nutrient content in plants.

Targeted vs Untargeted Metabolomics

There are two approaches to metabolomic analysis: targeted and untargeted.

Targeted:  Metabolites, known a priori, are defined by the biological problem and may represent a class of molecules or a specific pathway.

Untargeted: This type of analysis involves identification and quantification of as many metabolites as possible.

Targeted Metabolomic Graphic
Global Untargeted Metabolomics Graphic

Equipment Used for Metabolomics

Depending on the project, a variety of equipment and techniques may be used in metabolomic analysis. For information on all the equipment used by the Wishart Node, go to our Equipment page.

Pros and cons of NMR
Pros and cons of LC-MS