Stable Isotope Probing (SIP)

Definition - What does Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) mean?

Stable isotope probing (SIP) is a biological technique used to track and identify microorganisms in a substrate of interest. This technique involves adding radiolabeled contaminates to a substance and evaluating its fate to determine whether biodegradation is occurring. Organisms that utilize the substrate labeled with the isotope assimilate it into their nucleic acids, which can subsequently be detected using various molecular techniques.

SIP is helpful for identifying microorganisms that cause microbial corrosion and microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).

Corrosionpedia explains Stable Isotope Probing (SIP)

While microorganisms are abundant and responsible for driving the biogeochemical cycling of the elements on Earth, their taxonomic identification is challenging. One method of identification, stable isotope probing (SIP), is a subset of a group of laboratory techniques known as molecular biological tools (MBTs).

By adding a radiolabeled contaminant, such as enriched 13C, laboratory personnel can assess the presence of organisms and biodegradation by monitoring its accumulation in biomarkers. If 13C accumulates in the biomarkers, then organisms are growing on the contaminant, thus indicating biodegradation.

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