Biogeochemistry

Researchers can obtain unique insights into biological and biogeochemical processes from the isotopic signatures of a wide variety of complex organic compounds. Isotope signatures vary as chemical and physical processes lead to changes in the natural isotope composition of these compounds. The isotopes 13C, 18O, 15N and 2H provide scientists with a wealth of information on the origin of compounds, pathways of metabolism, synthesis and diagenesis as well as conditions of formation, and more.

Quantifying the imposed isotopic signature can reveal metabolic processes within plants. Under controlled conditions in a laboratory plant chamber, environmental parameters such as temperature, air humidity, soil moisture and light intensity can be varied, and the isotopic signature quantified. Studying these processes allows one to understand CO2 fluxes in and out of ecosystems and ultimately leads to a better understanding of plant life.

Thermo Fisher Scientific provides you with the instrumentation to help your investigations of these complex organic compounds. The Delta V Plus and 253 Plus Gas IRMS, combined with our unique peripherals such as GC IsoLink II and LC IsoLink, as well as the Thermo Scientific Delta Ray and Delta Ray Connect, enable you to obtain highly precise isotope ratio data of stable isotope systems in a variety of biological samples.


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Delta V with GC IsoLink II
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253 Plus 10 kV Isotope Ratio MS

C and N isotope ratio analysis of organic components

In the last decade, compound-specific isotopic analysis of organic compounds has emerged as a useful approach for tracking the origin and fate of carbon and nitrogen in biogeochemical studies. When it comes to investigating metabolic pathways, GC-IRMS is a powerful technique, for either conducting tracer experiments or by studying the natural abundance of 15N or 13C in amino acids. Nitrogen content is usually low in organic compounds, so the determination of 15N/14N ratios is much more demanding than the determination of carbon isotope ratios.

Further reading

Plant metabolism

Scientists can use stable isotope composition of plant material to understand processes associated with plant metabolism. For example, during photosynthetic CO2 fixation, fractionation of stable carbon isotopes occurs and, consequently, plants are generally depleted in the heavier carbon isotope, 13C. Isotopic fractionation in plants is caused by physical and biochemical factors. The two major types of plants, C3 and C4 fixation plants, have different biochemical pathways with the heavier isotope 13C being more (C3) and less (C4) depleted. This distinction can be used in a variety of applications.

Further reading

C and N isotope ratio analysis of organic components

In the last decade, compound-specific isotopic analysis of organic compounds has emerged as a useful approach for tracking the origin and fate of carbon and nitrogen in biogeochemical studies. When it comes to investigating metabolic pathways, GC-IRMS is a powerful technique, for either conducting tracer experiments or by studying the natural abundance of 15N or 13C in amino acids. Nitrogen content is usually low in organic compounds, so the determination of 15N/14N ratios is much more demanding than the determination of carbon isotope ratios.

Further reading

Plant metabolism

Scientists can use stable isotope composition of plant material to understand processes associated with plant metabolism. For example, during photosynthetic CO2 fixation, fractionation of stable carbon isotopes occurs and, consequently, plants are generally depleted in the heavier carbon isotope, 13C. Isotopic fractionation in plants is caused by physical and biochemical factors. The two major types of plants, C3 and C4 fixation plants, have different biochemical pathways with the heavier isotope 13C being more (C3) and less (C4) depleted. This distinction can be used in a variety of applications.

Further reading


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