Stable isotope probing - linking microbial identity to function

Marc G Dumont, J Colin Murrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

457 Citations (Scopus)


Stable isotope probing (SIP) is a technique that is used to identify the microorganisms in environmental samples that use a particular growth substrate. The method relies on the incorporation of a substrate that is highly enriched in a stable isotope, such as (13)C, and the identification of active microorganisms by the selective recovery and analysis of isotope-enriched cellular components. DNA and rRNA are the most informative taxonomic biomarkers and (13)C-labelled molecules can be purified from unlabelled nucleic acid by density-gradient centrifugation. The future holds great promise for SIP, particularly when combined with other emerging technologies such as microarrays and metagenomics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


  • Bacteria
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

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