U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Environmental and Public Health Microbiology Laboratory — St. Petersburg, Florida

About the Laboratory

The microbiologists at the Environmental and Public Health Microbiology Laboratory (EPHML) develop analytical methods for the identification and quantitation of pathogenic microorganisms that can impact the health of humans and other organisms. This laboratory also develops methods for accessing aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric drivers of toxins and disease outbreaks.

United States military personal wait for a dust storm to clear
United States military personal wait for a dust storm to clear in Afghanistan. The microbiologists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) EPHML have analytical methods for the identification of pathogenic microorganisms in dust storms that can impact the health of humans. Photo Credit: U.S. Army.
anthrax threshhold map
Map showing tentative threshold values (Calcium >= 13000 ppm, Manganese >= 463 ppm, Phosphorus >= 580 ppm, and Strontium >= 170 ppm) used to identify where naturally occurring outbreaks of Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of Anthrax, are "more likely" to occur than in other locations, with all other variables held constant. Image from Joint USGS/USEPA Pathogens in Soils Geographic Information Systems Project.

Key Analytical Capabilities

  • Pathogens
  • Dust storm microbiology
  • Microbial source tracking
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Microbial community and metabolic variability
  • Genotoxicity, mutagenicity and general toxicity
  • Sample collection and identification Development
  • Understanding environmental stimulants of outbreaks
NOAA HYSPLIT model back trajectory results
USGS scientists use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) HYSPLIT Model to understand the trajectories of particles in the atmosphere. This image shows a NOAA HYSPLIT model back trajectory that identifies Asian deserts as a source for aerosols potentially impacting air quality in North America. Figure 6 from Smith and others, 2012.

Key Instrumentation

  • Standard, quantitative and Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction tempcyclers.
  • Epiflourescent microscope equipped with a micromanipulator for cell counts and capture.
  • 96-well plate reader and live/dead cell counter.
  • BioLog System – microbial ID and community analyses.
  • IDEXX System – specific and group microbial counts.
  • Electrophoresis and Blot systems for DNA and RNA analyses.

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Page Last Modified: 01-May-2018 @ 04:41:12 PM EDT