Stable isotope probing in the metagenomics era: a bridge towards improved bioremediation

Biotechnol Adv. Mar-Apr 2013;31(2):154-65. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2012.09.003. Epub 2012 Sep 26.


Microbial biodegradation and biotransformation reactions are essential to most bioremediation processes, yet the specific organisms, genes, and mechanisms involved are often not well understood. Stable isotope probing (SIP) enables researchers to directly link microbial metabolic capability to phylogenetic and metagenomic information within a community context by tracking isotopically labeled substances into phylogenetically and functionally informative biomarkers. SIP is thus applicable as a tool for the identification of active members of the microbial community and associated genes integral to the community functional potential, such as biodegradative processes. The rapid evolution of SIP over the last decade and integration with metagenomics provide researchers with a much deeper insight into potential biodegradative genes, processes, and applications, thereby enabling an improved mechanistic understanding that can facilitate advances in the field of bioremediation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental*
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Metagenomics / trends
  • Phylogeny


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Carbon