Technical information

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

EA-IRMS is an Elemental Analyser (Carlo Erba NA1500 Serie 2, Milan, Italy) coupled with a continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometer (Delta S, Finnigan MAT, Bremen, Germany).

EA-IRMS showing the elemental analyser and the mass spectrometerEA-IRMS showing the elemental analyser and the mass spectrometer. Photo: Nicolas Angeli.

This equipment is dedicated to the analysis δ13C, δ15N, %C and %N on plant tissue and wood, soil and other biological compartment.

Along with the analysis of isotopic ratios and concentrations, we also offer sample preparation facility for grinding, extraction, preparation; in the case of natural abundance this is a central step which requires careful handling to avoid any contamination, so the facility has several fully equipped rooms for this purpose. The facility provides all required procedures for calibration and quality control and is currently preparing an application for a quality certificate ISO.

For information, the EA-IRMS run about 15,000 samples per year.

Fields of application

Ecology and biogeochemical cycles:

  • Effects of climate change (CO2, drought, ozone, excess water) and changes of land use on the functioning of trees and forest ecosystems;
  • Cycles of carbon, water, nitrogen and mineral elements in forest ecosystems;
  • Fertility of forest ecosystems.

Ecophysiology and genomics:

  • Functional diversity of the acquisition of environmental resources by trees (water, carbon, nitrogen, mineral elements);
  • Effect of abiotic stresses on growth and health of trees;
  • Diversity performance of woody species;
  • Physiology of water and carbon in the plant: gas exchange, water status, water-use efficiency.


  • Brendel O., Le Thiec D., Scotti-Saintagne C., Bodénès C., Kremer A., Guhel J.M. 2008. Quantitative trait loci controlling water use efficiency and related traits in Quercus robur L. Tree Genetics and genomes 4: 263-278. doi:10.1007/s11295-007-0107-z
  • Fichot R., Barigah T., Chamaillard S., Le Thiec D., Laurans F., Cochard H., Brignolas F. 2010. Common trade-offs between xylem resistance to cavitation and other physiological traits do not hold among unrelated Populus deltoides x Populus nigra hybrids. Plant, Cell and Environment 33: 1553-1568. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3040.2010.02164.x
  • Merchant A., Wild B., Richet A., Bellot S., Adams M.A., Dreyer E. 2011. Compound specific differences in 13C of soluble carbohydrates in leaves and phloem of 6-month-old Eucalyptus globules (Labill). Plant, Cell and Environment 34: 1599-1608. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3040.2011.02359.x
  • Marguerit E., Brendel O., Lebon E., Van Leeuwen C., Ollat N. 2012. Rootstock control of scion transpiration and its acclimation to water deficit are controlled by different genes. New Phytologist 194: 416-429. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04059.x