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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2006 Feb;17(1):92-7. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

The use of stable isotope probing techniques in bioreactor and field studies on bioremediation.

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Department of Microbiology, Wing Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Stable isotope probing (SIP) is a molecular technique that allows investigators to follow the flow of atoms in isotopically enriched molecules through complex microbial communities into metabolically active microorganisms. Thus, SIP has immense promise for discovering microorganisms responsible for ecologically important biogeochemical reactions in nature. Applications of SIP to biodegradation and bioremediation processes are still in their infancy. In the past few years, approximately a dozen biodegradation studies using SIP based on the analysis of labeled DNA, RNA or phospholipid fatty acids have been completed. Results have begun to link biomarkers (especially sequences of 16S ribosomal RNA and functional genes) to biodegradation reactions in naturally occurring microbial communities. As extensive compilations of ecologically important genotypes and phenotypes accrue, predictive abilities for contaminant metabolism in particular habitats may be achieved.

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