The technologies being developed for the large-scale, essentially unbiased analysis of the small molecules present in organic extracts made from plant materials are greatly changing our way of thinking about what is possible in plant biology. A range of different separation and detection techniques are being refined and expanded and their combination with advanced data management and data analysis approaches is already giving plant scientists far deeper insights into the complexity of plant metabolism and plant metabolic composition than was imaginable just a few years ago. This field of "metabolomics", while still in its infancy, has nevertheless already been welcomed with open arms by the plant science community, partly because of these said advantages but also because of the broad potential applicability of the approaches in both fundamental and applied science. The diversity in application already ranges from understanding the considerable complexity of primary metabolic networks in Arabidopsis, to the changes which occur in the biochemical composition of foods occurring, for example, during the Pasteurization of tomato purée for long-term storage or the boiling of Basmati rice for direct consumption. The insights being gained are revealing valuable information on the strict control yet flexible nature of plant metabolic networks in many different systems. This volume aims to give a comprehensive overview of the approaches available for the performance of a "typical" plant metabolomics experiment, the choice of analytical techniques and to offer warnings on the potential pitfalls in experimental design and execution.
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