Plants defend themselves from most microbial attacks via mechanisms including cell wall fortification, production of antimicrobial compounds, and generation of reactive oxygen species. Successful pathogens overcome these host defenses, as well as obtain nutrients from the host. Perturbations of plant metabolism play a central role in determining the outcome of attempted infections. Metabolomic analyses, for example between healthy, newly infected and diseased or resistant plants, have the potential to reveal perturbations to signaling or output pathways with key roles in determining the outcome of a plant–microbe interaction. However, application of this -omic and its tools in plant pathology studies is lagging relative to genomic and transcriptomic methods. Thus, it is imperative to bring the power of metabolomics to bear on the study of plant resistance/susceptibility. This review discusses metabolomics studies that link changes in primary or specialized metabolism to the defense responses of plants against bacterial, fungal, nematode, and viral pathogens. Also examined are cases where metabolomics unveils virulence mechanisms used by pathogens. Finally, how integrating metabolomics with other -omics can advance plant pathology research is discussed.
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