Metabolites

What are Metabolites?

The intermediate products that are formed during metabolism and catalyzed by several enzymes that occur in the cells naturally are called metabolites. For example, antibiotics, pigments, etc. The term metabolites are used to refer to small molecules. The functions taken care of by metabolites include structure, catalytic activity, fuel, signaling, defense, and interaction with the other organisms. The metabolites are usually produced by humans, plants, and microbes. 


Plant Metabolites

The plant metabolites are of two types, namely primary metabolites and secondary metabolites.

  • Primary Metabolites: The primary metabolites are the chemical compounds that are produced during the growth and development processes. The primary metabolites are involved in the primary metabolic processes of photosynthesis and respiration. They are usually synthesized by the cell and are also required for maintaining the physiological functions of the body. The ones that help in maintaining the physiological functions of the body are known as central metabolites. These are the intermediate products of the anabolic metabolism that are required by the cells for the formation of the essential macromolecules. A few of the industrially prepared primary metabolites examples include vitamins, amino acids, organic acids, etc. A major primary metabolite that is produced on a large scale industrially is alcohol.

  • Secondary Metabolites: The secondary metabolites are produced by the organisms which are not necessary for the primary metabolic processes. Anyhow, they can be important both ecologically and otherwise. Secondary metabolites are regarded as the end products of the primary metabolites because they are derived through the pathways which involve the primary metabolites. Toxin, antibiotics, enzyme inhibitors, pheromones, etc. are the secondary metabolites examples. Streptomycetes and the related actinomycetes are the sources of the novel secondary metabolites. 

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Differences Between Primary and Secondary Metabolites

Primary Metabolites

Secondary Metabolites

It occurs in the growth phase.

It occurs at the stationary phase.

They are required for the growth and maintenance of cellular functions.

They are involved in ecological functions.

They are the same in every species.

They are different for different species.

They are produced in large amounts and are easy to extract.

They are produced in small amounts and are difficult to extract.

They are necessary to perform the physiological functions in the body.

They are the derivatives of the primary metabolites.

Examples include vitamins, ethanol, carbohydrates, and lactic acid.

Examples include steroids, antibiotics, phenolics, and pigments.


Human Metabolites

Humans are known to have about 2500 metabolites. Prostaglandins, which are a group of lipids that are made at the sites of the tissue damage and infection which are involved in dealing with the injuries or illnesses, are responsible for controlling the processes such as blood flow, inflammation, the formation of blood clots and induction of labor. Prostaglandins produce a metabolite called arachidonic acid. Both of the molecules have the same physical properties, and they belong to the same functional groups that are linked by a series of enzyme-catalyzed reactions.


Cholesterol produces steroid hormones that are the powerful molecules and help in regulating the host of organismal functions. Catecholamines that arise from the amino acid, tyrosine, are released into the blood by the adrenal glands when your body is physically or emotionally stressed.


Microbial Metabolites

Organisms tailor metabolites to control cell procedures and pathways. Researchers are getting progressively mindful of the potential for utilizing microbial metabolites as subatomic "bio probes" to explore procedures and pathways at the cell level and open the privileged insights of how cells work. While genomics, proteomics, and other atomic methodologies give our present perspective on the cell's "equipment," it is the utilization of microbial metabolites as bio probes that are assisting with deciphering the perplexing "programming" of working cells. 


Antimicrobial metabolites like bafilomycin, fostriecin, geldanamycin, herbimycin, leptomycin, and tautomycin have all discovered significant jobs as bio probes in cell science. Similarly, numerous mycotoxins, first perceived as animals' toxins and risks to human wellbeing, have been re-found as significant atomic reagents. These incorporate the aflatoxins, cytochalasins, tentoxin, fumitremorgin C, and fumonisins. 


There have been not many proteins, and receptors read for which microbial metabolite rivals or agonists have not been found. This mirrors the key job of metabolites in nature. As a microorganism's prosperity depends on its capacity to control its condition, cell occasions basic to one life form will become focused for another creature to regulate in support of its. This serious interaction at the microbial level has been abused by analysts to comprehend life at the atomic level.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Metabolites?

Answer: The intermediate products that are formed during metabolism and catalyzed by several enzymes that occur in the cells naturally are called metabolites. They are of two types: primary and secondary. The primary metabolites are necessary for the proper growth of the microorganisms, whereas the secondary metabolites are formed at the stationary phase of growth, and they are not involved in the growth, development, and reproduction of the organisms. For example, antibiotics, pigments, etc. The term metabolites are used to refer to small molecules. The functions taken care of by metabolites include structure, catalytic activity, fuel, signaling, defense, and interaction with the other organisms. The metabolites are usually produced by humans, plants, and microbes.

2.  What is Secondary Metabolism? Give Examples of Secondary Metabolites. Highlight Some Important Points about Metabolites.

Answer: Secondary metabolism is used to refer to the pathways and the metabolites that are produced by metabolism and that are not essential for the survival of entities. In plants, metabolites help in the development and growth of plants, and they also promote primary metabolism. This is known as specialized metabolism. A few examples of secondary metabolites include steroids, antibiotics, phenolics, and pigments, etc.

Following are some of the most important properties of metabolites: - 

  • The metabolites are the intermediate end products of the metabolism process.

  • The primary metabolites are necessary for the proper growth of the microorganisms.

  • The secondary metabolites are formed at the stationary phase of growth, and they are not involved in the growth, development, and reproduction of the organisms.

  • The metabolites could be easily used in the industries to create antibiotics, vaccines, isolate chemicals for the organic synthesis and to obtain amino acids.