Applications of Metabolomics for the Elucidation of Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Plants: A Special Focus on Osmotic Stress and Heavy Metal Toxicity

Manamele Dannies Mashabela, Priscilla Masamba, Abidemi Paul Kappo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Plants undergo metabolic perturbations under various abiotic stress conditions; due to their sessile nature, the metabolic network of plants requires continuous reconfigurations in response to environmental stimuli to maintain homeostasis and combat stress. The comprehensive analysis of these metabolic features will thus give an overview of plant metabolic responses and strategies applied to mitigate the deleterious effects of stress conditions at a biochemical level. In recent years, the adoption of metabolomics studies has gained significant attention due to the growing technological advances in analytical biochemistry (plant metabolomics). The complexity of the plant biochemical landscape requires sophisticated, advanced analytical methods. As such, technological advancements in the field of metabolomics have been realized, aided much by the development and refinement of separatory techniques, including liquid and gas chromatography (LC and GC), often hyphenated to state-of-the-art detection instruments such as mass spectrometry (MS) or nuclear resonance magnetic (NMR) spectroscopy. Significant advances and developments in these techniques are briefly highlighted in this review. The enormous progress made thus far also comes with the dawn of the Internet of Things (IoT) and technology housed in machine learning (ML)-based computational tools for data acquisition, mining, and analysis in the 4IR era allowing for broader metabolic coverage and biological interpretation of the cellular status of plants under varying environmental conditions. Thus, scientists can paint a holistic and comprehensive roadmap and predictive models for metabolite-guided crop improvement. The current review outlines the application of metabolomics and related technological advances in elucidating plant responses to abiotic stress, mainly focusing on heavy metal toxicity and subsequent osmotic stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number269
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • abiotic stress
  • heavy metal toxicity
  • metabolomics
  • osmotic stress
  • stress tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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