, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 359–365 | Cite as

Labelling halophilic Archaea using 13C and 15N stable isotopes: a potential tool to investigate haloarchaea consumption by metazoans

  • R. M. A. Lopes-dos-SantosEmail author
  • Marleen De Troch
  • Peter Bossier
  • Gilbert Van Stappen
Method Paper


The use of stable isotope (SI) labelling and tracing of live diets is currently considered one of the most comprehensive tools to detect their uptake and assimilation by aquatic organisms. These techniques are indeed widely used in nutritional studies to follow the fate of specific microbial dietary components, unraveling trophic interactions. Nevertheless, to the current date our understanding of aquatic trophic relationships has yet to include a whole domain of life, the Archaea. The aim of the present research was, therefore, to describe a halophilic Archaea (haloarchaea) labelling procedure, using the SI 13C and 15N, to enable the application of SI tracing in future studies of haloarchaea consumption by aquatic metazoans. To this end, three 13C enriched carbon sources and two 15N enriched nitrogen sources were tested as potential labels to enrich cells of three haloarchaea strains when supplemented to the culture medium. Our overall results indicate 13C-glycerol as the most effective carbon source to achieve an efficient 13C enrichment in haloarchaea cells, with Δδ13C values above 5000‰ in all tested haloarchaea strains. As for 15N enriched nitrogen sources, both (15NH4)2SO4 and 15NH4Cl seem to be readily assimilated, also resulting in efficient 15N enrichment in haloarchaea cells, with Δδ15N values higher than 20,000‰. We believe that the proposed methodology will allow for the use of SI labelled haloarchaea biomass in feeding tests, potentially providing unambiguous confirmation of the assimilation of haloarchaea biomass by aquatic metazoans.


Haloarchaea Stable isotopes 1315Isotope enrichment Labelled Archaea 



This research was financed by Ghent University through the Special Research Fund (BOF)—BOF/01N01615. BOF financed a doctoral grant for R.M.A. Lopes-dos-Santos.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Marine Biology, Biology DepartmentGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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