Exploring the Fundamental Structures of Life: Non-Targeted, Chemical Analysis of Single Cells and Subcellular Structures

Elizabeth K. Neumann, Thanh D. Do, Troy J. Comi, Jonathan V Sweedler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Cells are a basic functional and structural unit of living organisms. Both unicellular communities and multicellular species produce an astonishing chemical diversity, enabling a wide range of divergent functions, yet each cell shares numerous aspects that are common to all living organisms. While there are many approaches for studying this chemical diversity, only a few are non-targeted and capable of analyzing hundreds of different chemicals at cellular resolution. Here, we review the non-targeted approaches used to perform comprehensive chemical analyses, provide chemical imaging information, or obtain high-throughput single-cell profiling data. Single-cell measurement capabilities are rapidly increasing in terms of throughput, limits of detection, and completeness of the chemical analyses; these improvements enable their application to understand ever more complex physiological phenomena, such as learning, memory, and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9348-9364
Number of pages17
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 8 2019



  • analytical methods
  • bioanalysis
  • imaging
  • mass spectrometry
  • single-cell analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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