Ecological metabolomics: Overview of current developments and future challenges

Sardans J., Peñuelas J., Rivas-Ubach A. (2011) Ecological metabolomics: Overview of current developments and future challenges. Chemoecology. 21: 191-225.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1007/s00049-011-0083-5

Resumen:

Ecometabolomics, which aims to analyze the metabolome, the total number of metabolites and its shifts in response to environmental changes, is gaining importance in ecological studies because of the increasing use of new technical advances, such as modern HNMR spectrometers and GC-MS coupled to bioinformatic advances. We review here the state of the art and the perspectives of ecometabolomics. The studies available demonstrate ecometabolomic techniques have great sensitivity in detecting the phenotypic mechanisms and key molecules underlying organism responses to abiotic environmental changes to biotic interactions. But such studies are still scarce, and in most cases they are limited to the direct effects of a single abiotic factor or of biotic interactions between two trophic levels under controlled conditions. Several exciting challenges remain to be achieved through the use of ecometabolomics in field conditions, involving more than two trophic levels, or combining the effects of abiotic gradients with intra- and inter-specific relationships. The coupling of ecometabolomic studies with genomics, transcriptomics, ecosystem stoichiometry, community biology and biogeochemistry may provide a further step forward in many areas of ecological sciences, including stress responses, species lifestyle, life history variation, population structure, trophic interaction, nutrient cycling, ecological niche and global change. © 2011 Springer Basel AG.

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Factors affecting nutrient concentration and stoichiometry of forest trees in Catalonia (NE Spain)

Sardans J., Rivas-Ubach A., Peñuelas J. (2011) Factors affecting nutrient concentration and stoichiometry of forest trees in Catalonia (NE Spain). Forest Ecology and Management. 262: 2024-2034.
Enlace
Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.08.019

Resumen:

Although some studies have observed significant correlations between latitude and climate gradients and tree leaf nutrient concentration and stoichiometry, others have not. This study examined the nutrient concentrations of tree leaves in 3530 plots of the Catalonian Forest Inventory. Catalonia is a Mediterranean region located in NE Iberian Peninsula. It has a long land-use history and includes the large industrial-urban area of Barcelona but still contains a large forest area (42%). In the forests of Catalonia, leaf nutrient concentration increased and leaf C:nutrient ratios decreased from south to north, which paralleled the increase in MAP (mean annual precipitation) and the decrease in MAT (mean annual temperature), which was expected in a Mediterranean climate where the availability of water is the most limiting factor for plant nutrient uptake. In addition, the availability of water, which influences productivity, was associated with low leaf N:P content ratios, which is consistent with the Growth Rate Hypothesis. At a regional scale, the results support the Soil-Age Hypothesis because the youngest soils in the Pyrenees had the lowest leaf N:P ratios. Furthermore, the type of forest (evergreen, deciduous, or coniferous) explained some of the variation in leaf nutrient concentrations and stoichiometry. Nutrient concentrations were highest in deciduous trees and lowest in coniferous trees. Leaf nutrient concentrations and stoichiometry were mainly correlated with climate, but other factors such as the chemical properties of soil and rock, phylogenetics, and different ecological histories and anthropogenic factors such as pollution, had an effect. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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