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Entometabolomics: applications of modern analytical techniques to insect studies

Snart, Charles J.P., Hardy, Ian C.W., Barrett, David A.
Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 2015 v.155 no.1 pp. 1-17
analytical methods, carbon dioxide, equipment, insect behavior, insect larvae, insects, metabolism, metabolites, metabolome, metabolomics, parasitism, phenotype, quantitative analysis, sedation, statistical analysis, stress response, symbiosis, temperature
Metabolomic analyses can reveal associations between an organism's metabolome and further aspects of its phenotypic state, an attractive prospect for many life‐sciences researchers. The metabolomic approach has been employed in some, but not many, insect study systems, starting in 1990 with the evaluation of the metabolic effects of parasitism on moth larvae. Metabolomics has now been applied to a variety of aspects of insect biology, including behaviour, infection, temperature stress responses, CO₂sedation, and bacteria–insect symbiosis. From a technical and reporting standpoint, these studies have adopted a range of approaches utilising established experimental methodologies. Here, we review current literature and evaluate the metabolomic approaches typically utilised by entomologists. We suggest that improvements can be made in several areas, including sampling procedures, the reduction in sampling and equipment variation, the use of sample extracts, statistical analyses, confirmation, and metabolite identification. Overall, it is clear that metabolomics can identify correlations between phenotypic states and underlying cellular metabolism that previous, more targeted, approaches are incapable of measuring. The unique combination of untargeted global analyses with high‐resolution quantitative analyses results in a tool with great potential for future entomological investigations.