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

Last update: May 2021

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Biogeochemistry laboratory

Biogeochemistry laboratory
Champenoux, 54280, France
Laboratoire de Biogéochimie

This laboratory has biogeochemical analysis tools organised into 5 poles:

  • spreparation of samples from forest ecosystems (liquid, solid and gaseous phases),
  • molecular analyses (spectrocolorimeter, ion chromatography, continuous-flow colorimeter),
  • mineral analyses (titrators, TOC-TON, NIRS-MIR, ICP-OES),
  • isotopic analyses (ICP-MS),
  • mineralogy (X-ray diffractometer, surface analyser, polarising microscope).

This laboratory is supported by INRAE's BEF (Biogeochemistry of Forest Ecosystems) Research Unit, whose mission is to enhance 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 the soil sciences and forest sciences.

The laboratory belongs to the ARBRE Pole of Excellence funded by the French National Research Agency (Labex ARBRE). Above all, the laboratory is internationally recognized for its expertise in isotope analyses (soil, litter and vegetation) on K, Ca and Mg, as well as for its research on C and N cycles. ICP and MS isotopic analyses are carried out at the SILVATECH facility.

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 percentage of external users to 25% of the total requests received, particularly in the field of tree phenotyping and forest soil description. The laboratory regularly welcomes researchers and students, who wish either to analyse their own samples or to develop new methodologies of common interest (e.g. measurement of boron concentrations in acid solutions after mineralisation of chemically treated pieces of wood). The team regularly collaborates with international research units on carbon, nitrogen and cation cycles.


The laboratory is managed by a full-time assistant engineer (specialised in isotopic analysis) and 5 permanent technicians specialised in different domains (on average, they dedicate 70% of their time to the laboratory for the maintenance of the installations and measurements). The research unit also provides scientific knowledge in the biogeochemistry of forest ecosystems, with a focus on C, N and cation cycles. The team regularly welcomes international students and researchers.

Work description and access modalities

The average user, or group of users, spendsspends 5 days working at the facility. An internal committee (composed of the head of the laboratory, the staff directly responsible for the facilities (molecular analysis, mineral analysis, isotopic analysis and mineralogy), and the head of the BEF research unit) analyses each request. The committee identifies the challenges of satisfying each demand ("routine analyses" versus "development of methodologies") and determines an appropriate schedule. A meeting is then held with the user, prior to the visit, to determine sample preparation protocols (carried out by the applicant), working methods and access conditions. In the case of a request for the development of a new methodology, the team may not be able to fulfil the request if they do not have the technical skills, or if the project is outside its area of expertise (biogeochemistry in forest ecosystems).

Access unit and cost

One hour represents one unit of access. A typical agreement for "routine analyses" consists of 35 units of access (one 5-day week, 7 hours/day) However, more time may be allotted (several weeks, or several one-week visits) for methodology development. A unit of access includes laboratory machine maintenance, access to the facilities, specific training by qualified persons and 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 from 2 (Dionex) to 20 (NIRS-MIRS).

Access fees, excluding the applicant's travel expenses, are XXXXXX euros per hour for private establishments and 62 euros per hour for public institutions.


  • Spectrocolorimeter (Shimadzu UV-1800),
  • Ion chromatography column (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),
  • ICP OES (optical emission spectrometer) (Agilent 720),
  • ICP MS (mass spectometer) (Analytik Jena 820),
  • X-ray diffractometer (Siemens Kristalloflex),
  • Surface Analyser (Leica),
  • Polarizing microscope (Leica DMLP).