Metabolomics is the most reliable analytical method for understanding metabolic diversity in single organelles derived from single cells. Although metabolites such as phosphate compounds are believed to be localized in different organelles in a highly specific manner, the process of metabolite compartmentalization in the cell is not thoroughly understood. The analysis of metabolites in single organelles has consequently presented a significant challenge. In this study, we used a metabolomic method to elucidate the localization and dynamics of 125 known metabolites isolated from the vacuole and cytoplasm of a single cell of the alga Chara australis. The amount of metabolites in the vacuole and the cytoplasm fluctuated asynchronously under various stress conditions, suggesting that metabolites are spatially regulated within the cell. Metabolite transport across the vacuolar membrane can be directly detected using the microinjection technique, which may reveal a previously unknown function of the vacuole.
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