Leslie A. Weston1*, Dominik Skoneczny1, Paul A. Weston1 and Jeffrey D. Weidenhamer1,2
1 Charles Sturt University, Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Wagga Wagga NSW Australia 2678
2 Department of Chemistry, Ashland University, Ashland Ohio USA.
* Corresponding author. e-mail:
The study of the diverse roles of plant metabolites or secondary plant products involved in plant defence has made rapid advancements in recent years, partly due to the use of metabolomics or targeted metabolic profiling of plant extracts. Metabolomics refers to the use of various analytical techniques to quantitate the suite of primary and secondary metabolites in complex sample matrices collected from organisms; metabolic profiling refers to metabolomic studies that focus on quantifying a subset of the metabolomic components. The metabolites present in plant extracts reflect the end products of gene expression at a particular point in time and often include both plant and microbial metabolites, corresponding to complex regulatory systems in the genome of a living plant. Metabolic profiling is a critical tool in understanding how a living system responds to environmental conditions to which it was subjected, including biotic stress. It also facilitates the use of functional gene annotation through the use of data mining tools for the comprehensive characterization of a plant genotype. In addition, metabolic profiling can also be useful for determination of complex pathways of secondary product biosynthesis in higher plants and a broader understanding of biological activity and function associated with the presence or absence of key secondary products in the metabolome. Metabolic profiling of organisms involved in trophic interactions can provide valuable information on joint metabolic networks and assist in broader understanding of a system. Here, we explore examples of applications of metabolic profiling used to better understand the complex role of secondary products in plant growth, development, defence, and the chemistry of food crops.
Keywords: metabolomics, chromatography, QToF, mass spectrometry, secondary plant products, allelochemicals.
RECEIVED: July 15, 2014
ACCEPTED: September 10, 2014