INRA Technical Platform for Functional Ecology, Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes facility

Technical information Practicalities


Elemental Analyser of EA-IRMSElemental Analyser of EA-IRMS. Photo: Nicolas Angeli.

Type of facility: Equipment - Elemental analyser coupled with isotopic ratio mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS) for δ13C and δ15N analysis

Keywords: climate change, drought, water-use efficiency, ecophysiology, ecology, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle

Who would find this useful? Forest-based research community; Non-forest research communities (e.g. plant science, agriculture, land use, climate change, environment, “omics”, economics, society, green chemistry, bioenergy, etc.)

About the facility: The platform is devoted to isotopic analyses for 13C, 15N and comprises the full range of equipment required for analysing natural abundance of the stable isotopes as well as abundance during labelling experiments (not relevant in the present case).

This platform has already enabled detection of QTLs (quantitative trait locus) for 13C and water use efficiency in oaks (Quercus spp.), pines (Pinus spp.), poplar (Populus spp.). The infrastructure is run by an engineer and two technicians who look after sample preparation, sample analysis, calibration, instrument maintenance, etc. This is one of the new platforms for natural abundance of stable isotopes in metabolites currently running in Europe and devoted to the analysis of the variability of functional traits.

The facility is currently running 13C analyses for several projects investigating the genetic variability of water use efficiency via 13C content: the European project NovelTree (maritime pine - Pinus pinaster; and poplar - Populus spp.); a Franco-Tunisian project on cork oak (Quercus suber) and zeen oak (Quercus faginea); a French project on beech (Fagus sylvatica) populations; a project comparing several oak species, etc.

The analysis of diversity via natural abundances describes only a part of the activity of the platform. The platform participates in the design of the experiment, provides help in preparing the experiment and sampling (if specific sampling is required). The visitors are asked to prepare their samples (with supervision of technicians) and the samples are run by the personnel of the platform.

What does the TA programme offer?

The unit of access is defined as 1 day. On average each user or user group is expected to stay 5 days at the infrastructure and therefore use 5 units of access. This access will be made available in the frame of a scientific cooperation only. This includes: (i) a discussion on the experimental design, and on the sampling strategy; (ii) the preparation of samples (grinding, weighing, extractions); (iii) analysis of the samples in the EA-IRMS; (iv) a first analysis of results.

Please note:

  • we will not analyse labelled samples, only samples at natural abundance;
  • the maximum size of the sample must not exceed 200;
  • grinding and weighing can be made by you on site, supervised by our staff.

The facility contributes through its scientific and technical expertise in stable isotopes as proxies for functional traits in trees. It ensures quality control and calibration and it provides all facilities for sample processing, and runs directly (a technician is in charge) the sample analysis. It will help with analysis and interpretation of results as well as with final scientific dissemination. This is the usual procedure used in collaborations with partners outside PTEF (with INRA and University Orleans, INRA and University Bordeaux, Tunisia, French Guyana, etc). The users will benefit not only from the technical know-how, but also from the scientific environment in the research group.

More information

Location: Champenoux, France

Technical information about the facility

Contact details/practical information

Visit the PTEF web-page