Metabolomics is the study of all metabolites in a particular organism or biological system. It can provide critical information, qualitatively and quantitatively, for further understanding of related metabolic pathways and their changes. Microbes are essential in biological systems, and metabolomics technology has received extensive attention in microbial research. Microbial metabolomics has functioned effectively in different research fields, such as microbial identification and mutation breeding, functional gene research, metabolic engineering, and fermentation engineering.

Application of Microbial Metabolomics in the Research of Lactic Acid Bacteria

The traditional classification of lactic acid bacteria is mainly based on morphological observation and biochemical experiments for phenotypic classification. With the technology development in molecular biology, genotyping methods, such as microbial whole genome sequencing, 16S rDNA sequence analysis, polymerase chain reaction fingerprinting, and DNA hybridization technology, have pervaded different research areas, including for the research of lactic acid bacteria. Metabolic profiling can distinguish and identify different strains by comparing the characteristic peaks of extracellular metabolites. This effective, rapid, and high-throughput method has gradually become the choice in metabolomics.

In addition, the metabolomic approach can detect changes in intestinal metabolites under the action of lactobacillus and elucidate the effect of probiotic metabolites on cytokine expression.

Microbial Metabolomics in Intestinal Flora Study

The microorganisms that colonize the host’s intestine are an important part of the gastrointestinal ecosystem, and their functions and metabolism are closely related to the host’s health and disease. They can prevent infection caused by pathogens, provide energy to the host through metabolism, enhance immunity, and interact with the host to regulate metabolic phenotypes.

Microbial metabolomics technology can directly detect changes in host metabolic phenotypes by analyzing the intestinal flora, elucidating the effect of intestinal microbes on the host health and disease.

Application of Microbial Metabolomics in Pathogenic Bacteria Research

Metabonomics technology can perform detailed analysis on many aspects of pathogenic bacteria. It can be applied to the diagnosis of diseases caused by pathogen infection, analysis of pathogenic bacteria’s mutation, detection, and screening of secondary metabolites.

Application of Microbial Metabolomics in Food and Nutrition

Pathogens, toxins, and by-products produced by microbial degradation of food are closely related to food safety issues. Monitoring these related metabolites is very important for food safety.

Microbial metabolomics is often used to evaluate the impact of nutrient deficiency and excess on the body’s metabolic balance, accurately monitor the effect of diet on the body, and reduce the interference of confounding factors such as age, gender, physiological status, and lifestyle.

Common Techniques for Microbial Metabolomics Analysis

  • Mass spectrometry: This technique has high specificity and sensitivity. Combined with other analytical instruments, multiple mature analytical platforms have derived from mass spectrometry. Some examples are gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and capillary electrophoresis- mass spectrometry (CE-MS).
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR): It can quickly and accurately perform high-throughput analysis without damaging the sample. It is an important analysis technique to identify the structure of organic compounds.