IsoLife – Stable Isotope Labelled Plant Products for the Life Sciences


The exciting, wonderful stable-isotope world.


IsoLife’s intrinsically stable isotope-labelled plant products have now been used for more than 15 years in a wide range of scientific R&D fields in various analytical techniques, more than we could have imagined at the start of the company!

Many ecologists recognize that our unique products have great added value as specific tracers enabling important new discoveries (see e.g. Kiers et al, 2011; Wild et al, 2016). One of the most startling new developments in this millennium is the use of stable isotope probing (RNA-SIP and DNA-SIP) to identify active (soil and gut) micro-organisms clarifying their ecosystem functions and IsoLife’s uniformly (97 atom % 13C) stable-isotope labelled products have created many new opportunities in this area (see Cheng et al, 2017; López-Mondéjar et al, 2018) and an exciting new development includes the use of shotgun metagenomics (Yu, 2020).

Food scientists came to similar conclusions, showing that intrinsic, uniformly labelled plant materials are extremely valuable for measuring fluxes, tracing conversions in metabolism and intestines (e.g. Fernández-Calleja et al, 2019; Schlicker et al, 2019), demonstrating how acetate, derived from inulin, plays an important role in the central appetite regulation (see Frost et al., 2014), or applying our products as internal standards in mass spectrometry (see Weidel et al, 2014; Havlik et al, 2020; Van Erven, 2020).

At the same time, biotechnologists are developing new techniques elucidating complex biochemical structures such as cell walls, using techniques like solid-state NMR (see Terrett et al, 2019; Kang et al, 2018), or following biological processes using comprehensive multiphase NMR spectroscopy during germination of uniformly 13C-labelled wheat seeds (see Lam et al, 2014). Others characterize metabolomes (see Tsugawa et al, 2019) or trace carbon transport at cellular level from host to micro-organisms using NanoSIMS and TEM imaging (see Carpenter et al, 2013; Leinemann et al, 2018).

Many of the published scientific papers – some with spectacular results – are presented in this section to further inspire application of IsoLife’s stable isotope-labelled products.



Carpenter KJ, PK Weber, ML Davisson, J Pett-Ridge, MI Haverty, PJ Keeling. 2013.
Correlated SEM, FIB-SEM, TEM, and NanoSIMS imaging of microbes from the hindgut of a lower termite: Methods for in situ functional and ecological studies of uncultivable microbes.
Microscopy and Microanalysis 19: 1490-1501.

Cheng L, N Zhang, M Yuan, J Xiao, Y Qin, Y Deng, Q Tu, K Xue, JD Van Nostrand, L Wu, Z He, X Zhou, MB Leigh, KT Konstantinidis, EAG Schuur, Y Luo, JM Tiedje, J Zhou. 2017.
Warming enhances old organic carbon decomposition through altering functional microbial communities.
NATURE – The ISME Journal 11: 1825–1835.

Fernández-Calleja JMS, LMS Bouwman, HJM Swarts, A Oosting, J Keijer, EM van Schothorst. 2019.
Extended indirect calorimetry with isotopic CO2 sensors for prolonged and continuous quantification of exogenous vs. total substrate oxidation in mice.
NATURE – Scientific Reports 9: 11507.

Frost G, ML Sleeth, M Sahuri-Arisoylu, B Lizarbe, S Cerdan, L Brody, J Anastasovska, S Ghourab, M Hankir, S Zhang, D Carling, JR Swann, G Gibson, A Viardot, D Morrison, EL Thomas, JD Bell. 2014.
The short-chain fatty acid acetate reduces appetite via a central homeostatic mechanism.
NATURE Communications 5: 3611.

Havlik J, V Marinello, A Gardyne, M Hou, W Mullen, DJ Morrison, T Preston, E Combet, CA Edwards. 2020.
Dietary fibres differentially impact on the production of phenolic acids from rutin in an in vitro fermentation model of the human gut microbiota.
Nutrients 12: 1577.

Kang X, A Kirui, A Muszyński, MC Dickwella Widanage, A Chen, P Azadi, P Wang, F Mentink-Vigier, T Wang. 2018.
Molecular architecture of fungal cell walls revealed by solid-state NMR.
NATURE Communications 9: 2747.

Kiers TE, M Duhamel, Y Beesetty, JA Mensah, O Franken, E Verbruggen, CR Fellbaum, GA Kowalchuk, MM Hart, A Bago, TM Palmer, SA West, P Vandenkoornhuyse, J Jansa, H Bücking. 2011.
Reciprocal rewards stabilize cooperation in the mycorrhizal symbiosis.
SCIENCE 333: 880-882.

Lam L, R Soong, A Sutrisno, R de Visser, MJ Simpson, H Wheeler, M Campbell, WE Maas, M Fey, A Gorissen, H Hutchins, B Andrew, JO Struppe, S Krishnamurthy, R Kumar, M Monette, H Stronks, A Hume, AJ Simpson. 2014.
Comprehensive multiphase NMR spectroscopy of intact 13C labeled seeds.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 62: 407-415.

Leinemann T, S Preusser, R Mikutta, K Kalbitz, C Cerli, C Höschen, CW Mueller, E Kandeler, G Guggenberger. 2018.
Multiple exchange processes on mineral surfaces control the transport of dissolved organic matter through soil profiles.
Soil Biology and Biochemistry 118: 79–90.

López-Mondéjar R, V Brabcová, M Štursová, A Davidová, J Jansa, T Cajthaml, P Baldrian. 2018.
Decomposer food web in a deciduous forest shows high share of generalist microorganisms and importance of microbial biomass recycling.
NATURE – The ISME Journal 12: 1768–1778.

Schlicker L, HM Boers, CA Dudek, G Zhao, A Barua, JP Trezzi, M Meyer-Hermann, DM Jacobs, K Hiller. 2019.
Postprandial metabolic effects of fiber mixes revealed by in vivo stable isotope labeling in humans.
Metabolites 9: 91.

Terrett OM, JJ Lyczakowski, L Yu, D Luga, WT Franks, SP Brown, R Dupree, P Dupree. 2019.
Molecular architecture of softwood revealed by solid-state NMR.
NATURE Communications 10: 4978.

Tsugawa H, R Nakabayashi, T Mori, Y Yamada, M Takahashi, A Rai, R Sugiyama, H Yamamoto, T Nakaya, M Yamazaki, R Kooke, JA Bac-Molenaar, N Oztolan-Erol, JJB Keurentjes, M Arita , K Saito. 2019.
A cheminformatics approach to characterize metabolomes in stable-isotope-labeled organisms.
NATURE Methods 16: 295-298.

Van Erven G. 2020.
Quantitative mapping of lignin – Comprehensive insight into fungal delignification of plant biomass.
PhD Thesis. Wageningen University.

Weidel E, M Schantz, E Richling. 2014.
A rapid method for quantifying chlorogenic acid levels in potato samples.
Journal of AOAC International 97: 902-907.

Wild B, N Gentsch, P Čapek, K Diáková, RJ Eloy Alves, J Bárta, A Gittel, G Hugelius, A Knoltsch, P Kuhry, N Lashchinskiy, R Mikutta4, J Palmtag, C Schleper, J Schnecker, O Shibistova, M Takriti VL Torsvik, T Urich, M Watzka, H Šantrůčková, G Guggenberger, A Richter. 2016.
Plant-derived compounds stimulate the decomposition of organic matter in arctic permafrost soils.
NATURE – Scientific Reports 6: 25607.

Yu J. 2020.
Characterization of tropical agricultural soil microbiomes after biochar amendment.
PhD Thesis. Arizona State University.