DNA Stable-Isotope Probing (DNA-SIP)

J Vis Exp. 2010 Aug 2;(42):2027. doi: 10.3791/2027.


DNA stable-isotope probing (DNA-SIP) is a powerful technique for identifying active microorganisms that assimilate particular carbon substrates and nutrients into cellular biomass. As such, this cultivation-independent technique has been an important methodology for assigning metabolic function to the diverse communities inhabiting a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic environments. Following the incubation of an environmental sample with stable-isotope labelled compounds, extracted nucleic acid is subjected to density gradient ultracentrifugation and subsequent gradient fractionation to separate nucleic acids of differing densities. Purification of DNA from cesium chloride retrieves labelled and unlabelled DNA for subsequent molecular characterization (e.g. fingerprinting, microarrays, clone libraries, metagenomics). This JoVE video protocol provides visual step-by-step explanations of the protocol for density gradient ultracentrifugation, gradient fractionation and recovery of labelled DNA. The protocol also includes sample SIP data and highlights important tips and cautions that must be considered to ensure a successful DNA-SIP analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Isotopes / chemistry
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient / methods
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • DNA Probes / chemistry*
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Ultrafiltration / methods*


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA