A Joint NSF-JST Program
This is a U.S.-Japan joint program coordinated by the National Science Foundation and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation must represent joint projects involving both US and Japanese research groups. JST and NSF will jointly manage the proposal review and award process.
The "metabolome" is the complete set of metabolites expressed within an organism. Its composition is a reflection of the networks of enzymatic pathways encoded within the genome as well as the interplay of developmental processes and a changing environment over the lifetime of the organism. Metabolomics has exciting applications in bioenergy, environmental interactions, functional genomics and gene discovery, secondary metabolism, genome-wide association mapping, systems biology and metabolic modeling in plant, algal, and microbial systems. However, the scientific promise of metabolomics currently faces multiple challenges that need to be addressed. These challenges include: how to define the metabolome, metabolite annotation, standardization of spatially and temporally resolved sampling, measurement of metabolite flux, dynamic range and depth-of-coverage, instrumentation and infrastructure, informatics and databases.
The goal of this joint NSF-JST program is to advance novel biological knowledge in metabolomics in the areas of energy and the environment, and to foster greater collaborative interactions between Japanese and U.S. scientists in these priority areas. The focus of METABOLOMICS will be on plants, microbes, and algae and eligible research areas will include but will not be limited to:
- Capture of all major metabolites
- Development of standards and annotation of unknown metabolites
- Identification of specialized metabolites of potential value
In recent years, metabolomics has matured to the point where it is now possible to consider cataloging the complete profiles of small molecules in cells. Such profiling is critically important because these small molecule metabolites are the end products of gene expression and represent the high-resolution biochemical phenotype of the cell, tissue, and organism. Key goals of metabolomics include 1) chemical annotation, i.e. determining the chemical structure of each molecule, 2) biological annotation, i.e. connecting each metabolite to a specific enzyme, biochemical pathway, or biological process, and 3) metabolomic annotation, i.e. the distribution of each metabolite in different cells of an organism which includes spatial and temporal information as well as concentration.
Ellen L. Neidle