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Deciphering Microbiomes through Metabolites


  • The relative contribution of direct vs indirect action of metabolites and other small molecules in microbial communication and other interactions is unknown
  • The identification coverage of the metabolomes of microbial communities, their hosts, and their environments is low in comparison to other omics technologies
  • The mechanisms by which metabolites involved in communication and other interactions are generated, transported, and sequestered within microbial communities is poorly understood


To integrate advanced mass and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry instrumentation and methods at PNNL into a signature metabolomics capability, under a unified scientific vision, and with the goal of contributing to the identification of the mechanisms by which microorganisms in complex communities communicate and interact at the molecular level with each other, with plant and animal hosts, and with their environment.

Study Areas

  • The capabilities developed under this project will be universally applicable and implemented in the study of microbial communities from a variety of sources (e.g. soil, human)

Impact of Studies

  • Capability for targeted, quantitative analysis of metabolites involved in central carbon metabolism within microbial communities
  • Capability for comprehensive, untargeted analyses of lipids, polar and secondary metabolites within microbial communities
  • Pipeline for structural elucidation of important, novel metabolites
  • Knowledgebase of identified metabolites and unidentified metabolite features and their associated data and meta data
  • Pipeline for identification of molecular machinery responsible for novel metabolite generation, transportation, and metabolism


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