Stable Isotope Probing
From 2001 to 2004 Mike worked at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford, UK with Dr Andrew Whiteley and Professor Mark Bailey on the development of RNA based Stable Isotope Probing protocols. The method was successfully applied to identify phenol degrading bacteria in activated sludge treating coking effluent from a steel manufacturing plant in sunny Scunthorpe. This study was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in 2002 and was recognised by the Faculty of 1000 as a major advance in linking microbial community functions with specific phylogentic groups. Since that time, Mike and others have applied RNA based Stable Isotope Probing to identify microbes involved in the biodegradation of pollutants in the environment and ecological processes of global relevance. More recently, members of the team have been working towards Quantitative Stable Isotope Probing protocols to enable the quantification of the contribution of particular microbes to the consumption of specific carbonaceous substrates. The ultimate goal is to provide an accessible and affordable approach for microbial ecologists to follow the transfer of carbon from a substrate through microbial community food webs.