Metabolomic Study on Tridacna maxima Giant Clams Reveals Metabolic Fingerprint of Environmental Pollutants

Fatimah Almulhim, Susann Rossbach, Abdul Hamid Emwas, Najeh M. Kharbatia, Lukasz Jaremko, Mariusz Jaremko*, Carlos M. Duarte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Metabolite profiling of marine invertebrates, such as bivalve mollusks, may not only provide insights into the health state of an individual holobiont, but also the pollution levels of their environment Here, we combined 1H nuclear magnetic responance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS)-based metabolomics techniques to investigate the organ-specific metabolomic profiles of Tridacna maxima giant clams. Clams were collected from across-shelf gradient in the Red Sea, from inshore to off-shore. We unequivocally profiled 306 metabolites and observed that the sampling location had minimal effects on metabolite composition. However, we observed significant differences in metabolite profiles among different organs (i.e., gills, mantle organ, and digestive system). Importantly, in addition to endogenous metabolites, we detected the presence of terephthalic acid and isophthalic acid, which likely originate from marine plastic ingestion. Collectively, our study opens opportunities for a deeper understanding of Tridacna maxima physiology through metabolomics, and illustrates the power of invertebrate metabolite profiling for monitoring plastic-related aquatic pollutants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number813404
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - Apr 22 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors want to acknowledge the funding support from the KAUST Smart Health Initiative (SHI) seed grants (LJ and MJ) and baseline funds (LJ, MJ, and CD).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Almulhim, Rossbach, Emwas, Kharbatia, Jaremko, Jaremko and Duarte.


  • H NMR
  • exogenous and endogenous metabolites
  • GC-MS
  • giant clam
  • marine microplastic investigation
  • Tridacninae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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