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Microbial Insights – Stable Isotope Probing

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Microbial Insights – Stable Isotope Probing

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Microbial Insights Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) is an innovative MBT that uses a Bio-Trap amended with a 13C “labelled” contaminant (e.g. 13C benzene) to conclusively determine whether biodegradation has occurred.

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Microbial Insights Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) is an innovative MBT that uses a Bio-Trap® amended with a 13C “labelled” contaminant (e.g. 13C benzene) to conclusively determine whether biodegradation has occurred. The 13C label serves much like a tracer which can be detected in the end products of biodegradation – microbial biomass and CO2 .

CONCLUSIVE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With the SIP method, a Bio-Trap® amended with a 13C labeled contaminant is deployed in an impacted monitoring well for 30 to 60 days. Detection of 13C enriched phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) following in field deployment, conclusively demonstrates in situ biodegradation and incorporation into microbial biomass. Detection of 13C enriched dissolved inorganic carbon demonstrates contaminant mineralization.

VERSATILE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SIP can provide conclusive evidence of biodegradation of many common contaminants including benzene, other BTEX compounds, MTBE, naphthalene, and other contaminants that microorganisms can utilize as carbon and energy sources.

COST EFFECTIVE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  SIP ultimately saves money by allowing site managers and regulators to make more informed decisions. SIP is often employed during remedy selection to conclusively evaluate in situ biodegradation of a key contaminant and the feasibility of monitored natural attenuation (MNA).

Unlike laboratory studies, SIP study results reflect in situ biodegradation activity because the 13C contaminant adsorbed to the Bio-Trap® is exposed to the same subsurface conditions and processes as the site contaminants during the field deployment period.

Additional information


Determine if biodegradation is occurring – either through natural attenuation or enhanced bioremediation.


Detection of 13C “labelled” contaminant in: phospholipid fatty acids (proving incorporation into microbial biomass); and, in dissolved inorganic carbon (proving carbon mineralisation through microbial respiration).


Laboratory Analysis

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Microbial Insights


Additional Documents

Microbial Sampling and laboratory characterisation

Microbial Insights (MI) is an environmental biotechnology laboratory specializing in the development and application of cutting edge molecular biological tools to describe and quantify microbial populations. Since 1992, MI has become a leader in the application of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) and lipid biomarkers (PLFA) for more effective evaluation of microbial processes ranging from bioremediation to microbiologically influenced corrosion.

Microbial Insights Australia was launched in 2013 to better serve our clients and offers a full spectrum of molecular biological tools including qPCR, QuantArray®, In Situ Microcosms (ISMs) and Stable Isotope Probing (SIP). Sample preparation and extractions are performed upon receipt at the MI Australia laboratory just outside of Adelaide eliminating international shipping.

Our goal for Microbial Insights Australia is to ensure that our unmatched molecular tools and services are available and accessible to end users in Australia.


Our sales staff are highly trained and would be happy to take your call or email to discuss any product or service. We provide obligation-free quotes on everything from single dataloggers to large monitoring programs!