Mass spectrometry-based plant metabolomics: Metabolite responses to abiotic stress

Tiago F. Jorge, João A. Rodrigues, Camila Caldana, Romy Schmidt, Joost T. van Dongen, Jane Thomas-Oates, Carla António

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

200 Citations (Scopus)


Metabolomics is one omics approach that can be used to acquire comprehensive information on the composition of a metabolite pool to provide a functional screen of the cellular state. Studies of the plant metabolome include analysis of a wide range of chemical species with diverse physical properties, from ionic inorganic compounds to biochemically derived hydrophilic carbohydrates, organic and amino acids, and a range of hydrophobic lipid-related compounds. This complexitiy brings huge challenges to the analytical technologies employed in current plant metabolomics programs, and powerful analytical tools are required for the separation and characterization of this extremely high compound diversity present in biological sample matrices. The use of mass spectrometry (MS)-based analytical platforms to profile stress-responsive metabolites that allow some plants to adapt to adverse environmental conditions is fundamental in current plant biotechnology research programs for the understanding and development of stress-tolerant plants. In this review, we describe recent applications of metabolomics and emphasize its increasing application to study plant responses to environmental (stress-) factors, including drought, salt, low oxygen caused by waterlogging or flooding of the soil, temperature, light and oxidative stress (or a combination of them). Advances in understanding the global changes occurring in plant metabolism under specific abiotic stress conditions are fundamental to enhance plant fitness and increase stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-649
Number of pages30
JournalMass Spectrometry Reviews
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • abiotic stress
  • compatible solutes
  • GC–MS
  • LC–MS
  • mass spectrometry
  • metabolite analysis
  • osmolytes
  • plant metabolomics


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