Soil metabolomics: Deciphering underground metabolic webs in terrestrial ecosystems

Yang Song, Shi Yao, Xiaona Li, Tao Wang, Xin Jiang, Nanthi Bolan, Charles R. Warren, Trent R. Northen, Scott X. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Soil metabolomics is an emerging approach for profiling diverse small molecule metabolites, i.e., metabolomes, in the soil. Soil metabolites, including fatty acids, amino acids, lipids, organic acids, sugars, and volatile organic compounds, often contain essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur and are directly linked to soil biogeochemical cycles driven by soil microorganisms. This paper presents an overview of methods for analyzing soil metabolites and the state-of-the-art of soil metabolomics in relation to soil nutrient cycling. We describe important applications of metabolomics in studying soil carbon cycling and sequestration, and the response of soil organic pools to changing environmental conditions. This includes using metabolomics to provide new insights into the close relationships between soil microbiome and metabolome, as well as responses of soil metabolome to plant and environmental stresses such as soil contamination. We also highlight the advantage of using soil metabolomics to study the biogeochemical cycles of elements and suggest that future research needs to better understand factors driving soil function and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalEco-Environment and Health
Issue number2
Early online date17 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


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