Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 1, pp 13–19 | Cite as

Simplifying the complex: metabolomics approaches in chemical ecology

  • Remington X. PoulinEmail author
  • Georg Pohnert


Chemical signals are important mediators of organismal interactions. These interactions significantly influence ecosystem structure and thus are crucial to understand. Ecologists and analytical chemists work closely together to identify the specific molecules regulating ecological interactions. However, limitations in the analytical techniques on the one hand and time-demanding bioassays on the other have been restraining chemical ecology research. Application of metabolomics techniques has recently led to significant advancement of the field. Here, we discuss modifications to the traditional bioassay-guided fractionation approach with metabolomics techniques. We focus on two challenging topics within chemical ecology, waterborne cues and single-cell investigations, to highlight how metabolomics techniques can succeed where traditional approaches have failed.

Graphical abstract


Metabolomics Metabolic profiling Waterborne cues Chemical ecology Single-cell metabolomics 


Funding information

Support for this research was kindly provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) through the collaborative research center 1127 Chemical Mediators in Complex Biosystems (ChemBioSys (CRC 1127)).

Compliance with ethical standards

No research was conducted using human participants or animals of any kind.

No data, text, or theories by others are presented as if they were the author’s own.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Anorganische und Analytische Chemie, Lehrstuhl für Instrumentelle Analytik/Bioorganische AnalytikFriedrich-Schiller-UniversitätJenaGermany

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