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Metabolites are the intermediates and products of metabolism. The term metabolite is usually restricted to small molecules.

A primary metabolite is directly involved in the normal growth, development, and reproduction.

A secondary metabolite is not directly involved in those processes, but usually has important ecological function. Examples include antibiotics and pigments.

The metabolome forms a large network of metabolic reactions, where outputs from one enzymatic chemical reaction are inputs to other chemical reactions. Such systems have been described as hypercycles.


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