Current Metabolomics Projects





Rothamsted Research is one if eight institutes sponsored by the biotechnology and biological sciences research council














Rothamsted Research is the lead contractor of the MeT-RO project – a recently BBSRC-funded consortium project to establish a research, service and training centre for high-throughput plant and microbial metabolomics. The other members of the consortium are the University of Aberystwyth and UMIST. The project will exploit genome-verified and other plants and microbes and appropriate mutant collections to give information of great potential value for agri-biotechnological innovation and for medicinal, food quality and safety research.  An integration of technologies, including large-scale analytical chemistry, chemometrics, machine learning and bioinformatics will provide novel routines for metabolic phenotyping allowing the comprehensive analysis of a class of molecules not accessible to current ‘omics’ technologies. By providing large-scale analytical data and new tools for precision metabolite and gene annotation the activities of the centre will increase the utility of current genomic and transcriptomic research

The core activities of the proposed operation will be acquisition of accurate analytical data from biological material grown in controlled and statistically valid experimental conditions, and the construction and maintenance of a user-accessible web resource which contains, at its core a database of project-specific spectral and phenotypic data and cumulative libraries of plant and microbial metabolite spectra. For quality assurance all service sample processing and analytical data capture will be carried out on the Rothamsted site.  Aberystwyth University will provide expertise for the construction and continued refinement of a metabolomics database, which is central to the data delivery system, and will take a lead role with UMIST in the development and delivery of advanced data analysis. UMIST will also develop FTICR-MS procedures for HT metabolomics, particularly for fingerprinting, with selected samples supplied from Rothamsted.


For further details of the MeT-RO project and for service enquiries please view the MeT-RO Home Page.







Rothamsted Research is a partner in HiMet– a BBSRC Exploiting Genomics project, developing hierarchical methods for Arabidopsis thaliana gene function analysis.


Project Overview

Robust high-throughput metabolite fingerprinting and targeted analytical methods will be applied to Arabidopsis thaliana mutants grown under controlled environment conditions. This will generate datasets from well characterised mutants. By application of pattern recognition and machine learning methods we hope to develop a biochemical phenotype classification by fingerprint. The model will then be tested in its ability to classify unknown or less well characterised mutants, thereby contributing to systematic gene function analysis

















Partners in the HiMet Project





University of Wales, Aberystwyth (UWA)

·                      Metabolic fingerprinting using FT-IR and ES-MS.

·                      ArMet development.

·                      Data analysis and explanatory machine learning.

John Innes Centre (JIC)

·                      Plant cultivation, harvesting and preparation.

·                      Targeted metabolic profiling using LCMS

·                      Bioinformatics

Rothamsted Research

·                      Targeted metabolite profiling by GC-MS.

·                      Metabolic fingerprinting by NMR.

University of York

Targeted metabolite profiling by GC-MS, LC-MS,     GC and LC-fluorescence.


·                      Data analysis and explanatory machine learning

·                      Metabolic fingerprinting using FT-IR




garnet logoGARNet, the Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network, was created as part of the BBSRC Investigating Gene Function (IGF) Initiative to establish UK-based facilities for genomics research on Arabidopsis thaliana. GARNet is intended to function as a platform for international Arabidopsis research.

As part of the GARNet programme, Rothamsted Research provides the Metabolite Profiling service to the UK Arabidopsis community.

NMR and mass-spectrometric methods for metabolite profiling have been developed, in order to integrate metabolic data with gene sequence and expression data. The approaches used are automation of solvent extraction and sample clean-up procedures, tailored for particular classes of compound, followed by automated GC-MS and LC-MS. In addition, NMR has been developed as a method for higher-throughput analysis that gives qualitative data on polar metabolites such as carbohydrates, amino acids and organic acids. A library of NMR spectra of metabolites in Arabidopsis has also been constructed.

A service for growth in controlled environment and metabolite profiling of selected mutant lines is offered.

Current methods of Targeted Analysis include:

·         flavonoids

·         carotenoids

·         sterols

·         fatty acids

·         lipids

·         primary amino acids

·         primary carbohydrates

·         phenylpropanoids




More information on the metabolite analysis service and application for service can be found on the GARNet Home Page



FSA (G02 Project)



Food Standards Agency‘Comparison of the metabolome and proteome of GM and non-GM wheat: defining substantial equivalence’ is a project funded by the Food Standards Agency under their G02 Safety of Novel Foods programme. The project involves a detailed analysis of wheat seed and leaf tissue from plants grown in field trials and controlled environment. The GM wheat varieties are non-commercial and contain modifications in the subunit composition of high abundance seed protein, gluten. A battery of metabolomic and proteomic techniques are being applied to plant material from GM and control lines grown in field trials over a three year period at two different geographical sites in the UK. The project is developing methodologies for rapid evaluation of metabolite fingerprints of wheat flour and providing a wealth of data regarding changes in the metabolome as a result of growing environment as well as testing the concept of substantial equivalence of GM and non-GM varieties.