The time is right to focus on model organism metabolomes

Arthur S. Edison, Robert D. Hall, Christophe Junot, Peter D. Karp, Irwin J. Kurland, Robert Mistrik, Laura K. Reed, Kazuki Saito, Reza M. Salek, Christoph Steinbeck, Lloyd W. Sumner, Mark R. Viant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Model organisms are an essential component of biological and biomedical research that can be used to study specific biological processes. These organisms are in part selected for facile experimental study. However, just as importantly, intensive study of a small number of model organisms yields important synergies as discoveries in one area of science for a given organism shed light on biological processes in other areas, even for other organisms. Furthermore, the extensive knowledge bases compiled for each model organism enable systems-level understandings of these species, which enhance the overall biological and biomedical knowledge for all organisms, including humans. Building upon extensive genomics research, we argue that the time is now right to focus intensively on model organism metabolomes. We propose a grand challenge for metabolomics studies of model organisms: to identify and map all metabolites onto metabolic pathways, to develop quantitative metabolic models for model organisms, and to relate organism metabolic pathways within the context of evolutionary metabolomics, i.e., phylometabolomics. These efforts should focus on a series of established model organisms in microbial, animal and plant research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Danio rerio
  • Daphnia magna
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Escherichia coli
  • Mus musculus
  • Oryza sativa
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Solanum lycopersicum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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