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Microbiology and the Environment

U.S. Geological Survey microbiology efforts span the disciplines and cover many broad research areas, including fish and wildlife health and disease, climate change, microbial ecology, public health and water quality, geomicrobiology, and ecosystem function. More about USGS Microbiology


Research Activities for Resource Management

Microbiology research is supported across USGS Science Disciplines Biology, Geography, Geology, and Water.*
Montastraea cavernosa with yellow blotch/band disease. Photo credit: USGSFish and Wildlife Disease
Researchers bring understanding to how diseases interact with their fish and wildlife hosts.
WBC-2 microbial consortium. Photo credit: Geosyntec ConsultantsBioremediation
Scientists discover how microbes can clean up contamination in the environment.
Earth. Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Climate Change
Microbes and their impact on the Earth's climate are studied to discover the role microbes play in climate change.
Coal boring rig at dusk in Texas. Photo credit: USGSEnergy
From supplying energy to impacting human health, scientists study the microbes that play a role in the Nation's energy resources.
Pacific Northwestern forest. Photo credit: USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science CenterEcosystem Function
The latest tools and techniques are used to understand the role of microbes in shaping the environment.
Phospholipid fatty acids and soil health map. Image credit: J. Holloway, USGSGeographic Patterns
Scientists provide insight on the distribution of microbes that impact public health and ecosystem function.
Open water in post-Katrina marsh, Louisiana. Photo credit: J. Holloway, USGSGeomicrobiology
Researchers investigate how microbes interact with the nonliving parts of Earth such as soils, sediment, and atmosphere.
Human liver tissue. Photo credit: USGSHuman Health
Using microbes, scientists study environmental agents that can impact human health.
The colorful landscape and incredible diversity of a deep-sea reef in the Aleutian Islands. Photo credit: Alberto Lindner, NOAA FisheriesMicrobial Ecology
Scientists use the latest techniques to understand the living community of microbes in the environment.
Anabaena planktonica. Arrow points to the heterocyst, the site of atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGS Water Quality
Chemicals, algal blooms, and pathogens are measured and monitored to assist beach health and other water quality programs.
Selenium nanospheres formed by Bacillus selenitireducensNanotechnology
Scientists reveal the impact of nanoparticles on ecosystems and organisms, as well as new uses for energy production, industry, and science.
- All samples of USGS microbiology research activities


*Research summaries are contributed by USGS scientists and information specialists from across USGS disciplines. For the goals of this Web site, see "Feedback about the Web site" under Contact Us.


Featured Topics

New Publication Compares Field-Friendly DNA Preservation Techniques
Photo: Ofu, American Samoa – an example of a remote field site where simple methods that can preserve samples for three days of traveling to return
Photo: Ofu, American Samoa – an example of a remote field site where simple methods that can preserve samples for three days of traveling to return

An article published in the January 2013 issue of FEMS Microbiology Ecology by microbiologists at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center compared a variety of methods that can be used to preserve mixed bacterial samples in the field for DNA analysis back in the laboratory. The team evaluated both practical factors such as cost and ease of use, as well as more specific scenarios including not having access to a freezer or being unable to transport samples containing flammable chemicals or liquids.


Pathogen Fitness and Virulence of a Fish Virus
Photo: Rainbow Trout. Credit: Gael Kurath/USGS.
Photo: Rainbow Trout. Credit: Gael Kurath/USGS.

In a latest issue of The Journal of Virology, researchers from the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center and the University of Washington examined the relationship between pathogen fitness and virulence using an important fish virus, Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV). Read More >>

See Past Featured Topics >>

Denise Akob sampling heavy metal and radionuclide contaminated soilsFeatured Scientist in Microbiology


Denise Akob



Scientists and Science Centers

USGS Columbia Environmental Research CenterUSGS microbiology capabilities develop at science centers where scientists use the latest methods and equipment to provide services for partners and customers.

Image Gallery

Gloeotrichia echinulata. Photo credit: Barry H. Rosen, USGSCyanobacteria, human cells, other microbes, and more: images captured by USGS personnel related to their microbiology research.

- More images

Contact Information

USGS Microbiology Coordinator
Kay M. Briggs

Phone: 703-648-4046

Scientists may be contacted through the Microbiology Scientists page or by the USGS Employee Directory.

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Page Last Modified: Monday, 07-Feb-2011 11:29:16 MST
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