Dynamics of 18O Incorporation from H218O into Soil Microbial DNA

Steven J. Blazewicz, Egbert Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Heavy water (H218O) has been used to label DNA of soil microorganisms in stable isotope probing experiments, yet no measurements have been reported for the 18O content of DNA from soil incubated with heavy water. Here we present the first measurements of atom% 18O for DNA extracted from soil incubated with the addition of H218O. Four experiments were conducted to test how the atom% 18O of DNA, extracted from Ponderosa Pine forest soil incubated with heavy water, was affected by the following variables: (1) time, (2) nutrients, (3) soil moisture, and (4) atom% 18O of added H2O. In the time series experiment, the atom% 18O of DNA increased linearly (R2 = 0.994, p < 0.01) over the first 72 h of incubation. In the nutrient addition experiment, there was a positive correlation (R2 = 0.991, p = 0.006) between the log10 of the amount of tryptic soy broth, a complex nutrient broth, added to soil and the log10 of the atom% 18O of DNA. For the experiment where soil moisture was manipulated, the atom% 18O of DNA increased with higher soil moisture until soil moisture reached 30%, above which 18O enrichment of DNA declined as soils became more saturated. When the atom% 18O for H2O added was varied, there was a positive linear relationship between the atom% 18O of the added water and the atom% 18O of the DNA. Results indicate that quantification of 18O incorporated into DNA from H218O has potential to be used as a proxy for microbial growth in soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-916
Number of pages6
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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