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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Biogeochemistry laboratory

Biogeochemistry laboratory
Champenoux, 54280, France
Laboratoire de Biogéochimie
Laboratory description

This laboratory has biogeochemical analysis tools comprising 5 poles:

  • sample preparation (all liquid / solid / gaseous phases - from forest ecosystems),
  • molecular analyses (spectrocolorimeter, ion chromatography, continuous-flow colorimeter),
  • mineral analysis (titrator, TOC-TON, NIRS-MIR, ICP Optique),
  • isotopic (ICP-MS),
  • mineralogy (X-ray diffractometer, surface analyzer, polarizing microscope).

This laboratory is supported by INRAE's BEF (Biogeochemistry of Forest Ecosystems) research unit whose mission is to establish knowledge and expertise in the field of quantitative and functional ecology applied to forest ecosystems with a particular focus on soil and nutrient cycles. In disciplinary terms, the laboratory is at the interface of soil sciences and forest sciences.

The laboratory belongs to the ARBRE Pole of Excellence funded by the French National Research Agency (Labex ARBRE). In particular, the laboratory is internationally recognized for its expertise in isotope analyses (soil, litter and vegetation) on K, Ca, Mg, as well as for research on the C and N cycles. ICP (optics and MS) are included in the SILVATECH infrastructure.

Services offer

Biogeochemical analyses on different compartments of the ecosystem (soil, litter, leaves, wood, bark) for different phases (solid and liquid).

The laboratory aims to broaden its panel of external users up to 25% of total requests, particularly in the field of tree phenotyping and forest soil characterization. The laboratory regularly welcomes researchers and students, either to analyse their own samples or to develop new methodologies of common interest (e.g. measurement of boron concentration in acid solutions after mineralisation of chemically treated pieces of wood). We regularly collaborate with international research units on carbon, nitrogen and cation cycles.


The laboratory is managed by a full-time assistant engineer (specialized in isotope analysis) and 5 permanent technicians with different specialties (on average 70% of the full time dedicated to the laboratory - maintenance of installations and measurements). In parallel, the research unit offers scientific knowledge in biogeochemistry in forest ecosystems, mainly on C, N and cation cycles. We regularly welcome international students and researchers.

Work description and access modalities

The average time for each user or group of users is 5 days. Each request is analysed by an internal committee involving the head of the laboratory, the staff directly responsible for the facilities (molecular analysis, mineral analysis, isotope analysis and mineralogy), and the head of the BEF research unit. This committee verifies the challenges that may be necessary to satisfy the demand ("routine analyses" versus "development of methodologies") and the required planning. A dialogue is then held with the user, prior to the visit, to determine the sample preparation (carried out by the applicant) as well as the working and access modalities. If the development of a new methodology is necessary, the request may not be met if we do not have the technical skills for this, or if it would be too far scientifically from our field (biogeochemistry in forest ecosystems).

Access unit and cost

The access unit is defined as a time. A typical access consists of 35 units (a 5-day week, 7 hours/day) for "routine analysis". However, it could be more (several weeks, or several one-week visits) for methodology development. This access unit includes maintenance and access to the facilities, specific training of the necessary consumables by qualified persons and the quality control of the analyses (consistency, drifts, post controls, etc ...).

Most machines are equipped with automatic samplers and, depending on the machine, the number of samples analysed per hour varies between 2 (Dionex) and 20 samples (NIRS-MIRS). The cost of an access unit for private establishments, excluding the applicant's travel expenses, is XXXXXX euros per hour.

The cost of an access unit for public institutions, excluding the applicant's travel expenses, is 62 euros per hour.


  • Spectrocolorimeter (Shimadzu UV-1800),
  • Ion chromatography (Dionex ICS2100),
  • Continuous flow colorimeter (Skalar San++ System),
  • Titrator (Mettler DL70 ES),
  • TOC-TON (Shimadzu TOC-L TNM-L),
  • NIRS-MIRS (Bruker Vertex 70 HTS-XS),
  • Optical ICP (Agilent 720),
  • ICP MS (Analytik Jena 820),
  • X-ray diffractometer (Siemens Kristalloflex),
  • Surface Analyzer (Leica),
  • Polarizing microscope (Leica DMLP).