Skip to navigation Skip to content

Barry Thornton

Staff picture: Barry Thornton
Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Section Leader of the Isotopes Section
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Barry has been manager of the Light Stable Isotopes Laboratory in the Analytical Group since 2006. After originally studying Biochemistry at Bangor he gained his PhD at Aberdeen University, being primarily based at the Institute during this period. He has a strong background in plant physiology with extensive experience of the application of stable isotopes in a wide variety of research contexts, in particular looking at C and N fluxes in plant-soil ecosystems.

Current research interests

Barry continues to have an interest in C and N fluxes in the plant-soil and other ecosystems. He has utilised compound specific stable isotope techniques to trace the flow of C from various sources into microbial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Recently he determined the spatial distribution of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the topsoil of Scotland and applied linear modelling to assess the extent to which land use and climate act as drivers of the observed distributions. He is currently applying Rayleigh equations to the pattern of enrichment of carbon isotopes which occurs going down soil profiles at the national scale to develop understanding of soil carbon decomposition rates. He has over 65 peer reviewed manuscripts.


  • Mayor, D.J.; Thornton, B.; Jenkins, H.; Felgate, S.L. (2019) Microbiota: The living foundation., In: Beninger, P.G. (ed.). Mudflat Ecology. Aquatic Ecology Series, No. 7. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, Chapter 3, pp43-61.

Printed from /staff/barry-thornton on 28/05/23 04:59:43 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.