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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB, United Kingdom; e-mail:, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003; e-mail:


Analytical methods for probing plant metabolism are taking on new significance in the era of functional genomics and metabolic engineering. Among the available methods, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a technique that can provide insights into the integration and regulation of plant metabolism through a combination of in vivo and in vitro measurements. Thus NMR can be used to identify, quantify, and localize metabolites, to define the intracellular environment, and to explore pathways and their operation. We review these applications and their significance from a metabolic perspective. Topics of current interest include applications of NMR to metabolic flux analysis, metabolite profiling, and metabolite imaging. These and other areas are discussed in relation to NMR investigations of intermediary carbon and nitrogen metabolism. We conclude that metabolic NMR has a continuing role to play in the development of a quantitative understanding of plant metabolism and in the characterization of metabolic phenotypes.

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