Our equipment was financed through CFI and NSERC grants.
We conduct both theoretical and applied research on biogeochemical processes regulating the distribution and fluxes of carbon and nitrogen in soil ecosystems. Studies focus on two areas: (1) understanding fundamental organic matter processes in soils, and (2) quantifying the influence of different land practices on soil biogeochemistry for advancing sustainable ecosystem management.
Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometers
Our three IRMS spectrometers are set up to measure relevant ratios of the stable isotopes of light elements (13C/12C, 15N/14N, 18O/16O and 2H/1H) in a broad range of sample types, including plant tissues, soil organic matter, aqueous solutions and gases.
One of our IRMS units is coupled to a high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) and a gas chromatograph (GC). This arrangement allows isotopic analyses of specific compounds in organic mixtures, in aqueous solutions and in gas mixtures.
A Costech NCS elemental analyzer for soil and plant samples, linked to the IRMS via a ConFlo IV interface to compensate for the different abundances of C and N in plant and soil samples.
A GasBench II Interface and a sample preparation device for the precise determination of the isotope ratios of gases such as CO2 from air or from soil respiration measurements.
A O-I Analytical Aurora analyzer for the determination of 13C/12C isotopic ratios in dissolved organic and inorganic carbon.
We have three GC instruments in our laboratory: one dedicated to the analysis of fatty acids (as determined using the Sherlock MIDI software), one for phenolic biomarkers, and one dedicated to CO2 measurements during incubation experiments.
Lastly, we use a pyrolysis GC/MS for soil organic matter characterization.
Our sample conservation and preparation system includes a freezer (-86˚C), a Labconco freeze-dryer with chamber and support trays, and a refrigerated high speed centrifuge.