Untargeted large-scale plant metabolomics using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry

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Untargeted metabolomics aims to gather information on as many metabolites as possible in biological systems by taking into account all information present in the data sets. Here we describe a detailed protocol for large-scale untargeted metabolomics of plant tissues, based on reversed phase liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF MS) of aqueous methanol extracts. Dedicated software, MetAlign, is used for automated baseline correction and alignment of all extracted mass peaks across all samples, producing detailed information on the relative abundance of thousands of mass signals representing hundreds of metabolites. Subsequent statistics and bioinformatics tools can be used to provide a detailed view on the differences and similarities between (groups of) samples or to link metabolomics data to other systems biology information, genetic markers and/or specific quality parameters. The complete procedure from metabolite extraction to assembly of a data matrix with aligned mass signal intensities takes about 6 days for 50 samples
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-791
JournalNature protocols
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • functional genomics
  • h-1-nmr spectroscopy
  • metabolites
  • tomato
  • identification
  • arabidopsis
  • ms
  • systems
  • combination
  • alignment

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