USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey - Microbiology

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Podcasts/RSS

Microbial Ecology

Scientists use the latest techniques to understand the living community of microbes in the environment.

Microbial Ecology Research Activities

Microbial ecology is the study of interactions between microorganisms and their environments.  All of the major biogeochemical cycles (for example, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur) are influenced by microbes.  Microbes are key players in primary production (both photosynthetic and chemosynthetic) and decomposition.  Microbes often engage in symbiotic relationships (either positive or negative) with other organisms, and these relationships affect the ecosystem.  They are present in virtually all of our planet's environments, including some of the most extreme, from acidic lakes to the deepest ocean, and from frozen environments to hydrothermal vents.  Because of this broad scope, microbial ecology studies will often overlap other research areas in the USGS, including climate change, geographic patterns, ecosystem function, geomicrobiology, and wildlife disease.  Microbial ecology studies entail the use of conventional microbiological techniques (cultures, microscopy) and modern molecular techniques (polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization, analysis, sequencing, microarrays).
Adapted from Wikipedia

The colorful landscape and incredible diversity of a deep-sea reef in the Aleutian Islands. Photo credit: Alberto Lindner, NOAA Fisheries Microbiology of Deep Sea Corals, Microarray Technology to Study Mechanisms of Coral Disease
Plant-Microbe Interactions
Dense root biomass associated with white rice. Photo credit: Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale, USGSWetland Sediments; Urban Salt Marsh Restoration
An intact sagebrush plot in eastern Oregon. Photo credit: Nicole M. DeCrappeo, USGS Soil Community Dynamics in Sagebrush Steppe and Cheatgrass-Invaded Sreas of the Northern Great Basin

Related Links and References