The CASMI 2013 (Critical Assessment of Small Molecule Identification 2013, http://casmi-contest.org/) contest was held to systematically evaluate strategies used for mass spectrometry-based identification of small molecules. The results of the contest highlight that, because of the extensive efforts made towards the construction of databases and search tools, database-assisted small molecule identification can now automatically annotate some metabolite signals found in the metabolome data. In this commentary, the current state of metabolite annotation is compared with that of transcriptomics and proteomics. The comparison suggested that certain limitations in the metabolite annotation process need to be addressed, such as (i) the completeness of the database, (ii) the conversion between raw data and structure, (iii) the one-to-one correspondence between measured data and correct search results, and (iv) the false discovery rate in database search results.
2014 The Mass Spectrometry Society of Japan