Insights into the fate of a 13C labelled phenol pulse for stable isotope probing (SIP) experiments

Manefield, Mike; Griffiths, Rob; McNamara, Niall P.; Sleep, Darren; Ostle, Nick; Whiteley, Andrew. 2007 Insights into the fate of a 13C labelled phenol pulse for stable isotope probing (SIP) experiments. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 69 (2). 340-344.

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Stable isotope probing (SIP) using DNA or RNA as a biomarker has proven to be a useful method for attributing substrate utilisation to specific microbial taxa. In this study we followed the transfer of a 13C6-phenol pulse in an activated sludge micro-reactor to examine the resulting distribution of labelled carbon in the context of SIP. Most of the added phenol was metabolically converted within the first 100 min after 13C6-phenol addition, with 49% incorporated into microbial biomass and 6% respired as CO2. Less than 1% of the total 13C labelled carbon supplied was incorporated into microbial RNA and DNA, with RNA labelling 6.5 times faster than DNA. The remainder of the added 13C was adsorbed and/or complexed to suspended solids within the sludge. The 13C content of nucleic acids increased beyond the initial consumption of the 13C-phenol pulse. This study confirms that RNA labels more efficiently than DNA and reveals that only a small proportion of a pulse is incorporated into nucleic acids. Evidence of continued 13C incorporation into nucleic acids suggests that cross-feeding of the SIP substrate was rapid. This highlights both the benefits of using a biomarker that is rapidly labelled and the importance of sampling within appropriate timescales to avoid or capture the effects of cross-feeding, depending on the goal of the study.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry
CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0167-7012
Additional Keywords: Microbial biomass, DNA, RNA, Carbon, Respiration, CO2
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Feb 2008 13:59 +0 (UTC)

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