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Biotechnol Lett. 2007 Jan;29(1):1-16. Epub 2006 Nov 8.

Microbial metabolomics: past, present and future methodologies.

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Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Technical University of Delft, Delft, The Netherlands.


Microbial metabolomics has received much attention in recent years mainly because it supports and complements a wide range of microbial research areas from new drug discovery efforts to metabolic engineering. Broadly, the term metabolomics refers to the comprehensive (qualitative and quantitative) analysis of the complete set of all low molecular weight metabolites present in and around growing cells at a given time during their growth or production cycle. This review focuses on the past, current and future development of various experimental protocols in the rapid developing area of metabolomics in the ongoing quest to reliably quantify microbial metabolites formed under defined physiological conditions. These developments range from rapid sample collection, instant quenching of microbial metabolic activity, extraction of the relevant intracellular metabolites as well as quantification of these metabolites using enzyme based and or modern high tech hyphenated analytical protocols, mainly chromatographic techniques coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS(n), GC-MS(n), CE-MS(n)), where n indicates the number of tandem mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR).

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