Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry based metabolite profiling of biological samples is rapidly becoming one of the cornerstones of functional genomics and systems biology. Thus, the technology needs to be available to many laboratories and open exchange of information is required such as those achieved for transcript and protein data. The key-step in metabolite profiling is the unambiguous identification of metabolites in highly complex metabolite preparations with composite structure. Collections of mass spectra, which comprise frequently observed identified and non-identified metabolites, represent the most effective means to pool the identification efforts currently performed in many laboratories around the world. Here, we describe a platform for mass spectral and retention time index libraries that will enable this process (MSRI; www.csbdb.mpimp-golm.mpg.de/gmd.html). This resource should ameliorate many of the problems that each laboratory will face both for the initial establishment of metabolome analysis and for its maintenance at a constant sample throughput.
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