U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory — Lansing, Michigan

About the Laboratory

Microbiologists at the Michigan Bacteriological Research Laboratory (MI-BaRL) use a wide array of traditional and modern molecular approaches to evaluate microbial pathogens and antimicrobial resistance pathways in the environment. The MI-BaRL uses these approaches to advance the understanding of how environmental contaminants affect microbial processes and influence the health of the Nation's aquatic resources, and consequently, the wildlife and humans using those resources. The MI-BaRL continues to optimize new tools and assays to work with a variety of environmental matrices, including water, sediment, manure, biosolids, biofilms, plant material, and animal tissue.

Mi Agar Medium under Ultraviolet Light. Bright Blue Dots Are Fluorescing Total Coliforms
Counting total coliforms is an easy task when plating on the selective media, MI agar. The MI agar method is a membrane-filtration method for the detection of Escherichia coli and total coliforms. Total coliforms fluoresce blue under ultraviolet (UV) light. Photo Credit: Carrie E. Givens, USGS.
Microbiologist with His Hands Working in a Biological Safety Cabinet
A microbiologist prepares a reaction in a Biological Safety Cabinet. These cabinets are frequently used in laboratories to protect the scientist, the lab environment, and prevent contaminating a sample. Photo Credit: Heather Johnson, USGS.

Key Instrumentation

Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2) laboratory with:

  • DNA/RNA automated extraction workstation
  • Liquid handling transfer workstation for automated PCR/qPCR set-up and culture transfer
  • Three thermal cyclers for PCR
  • 3 real-time PCR systems for qPCR
  • Fluorometer for quantitation of DNA
  • Phase Contrast and Epifluorescence Microscope
  • Bioanalyzer for sizing, quantification, and quality control of DNA and RNA
Sterile L-Spreader on Media
A disposable, sterile L-spreader, or "hockey stick," is used to plate a tapwater sample on selective media for Legionella—the bacterium which causes Legionnaire's disease. Photo Credit: Ian M. Hyslop, USGS.

Key Analytical Capabilities

  • Culturing and plating methods for enumeration and isolation of bacteria, including antibiotic resistant bacteria
  • IDEXX enumeration methods for water quality monitoring
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and quantitative PCR (qPCR) for pathogen and antimicrobial resistance genes
  • Sequencing and identification of bacterial isolates
  • Microbial community profiling (next generation sequencing) for microbial community composition and functional capabilities
  • Bioinformatics for sequencing data sets
USGS Analyst Performs DNA Extractions in a Laboratory
A USGS analyst performs DNA extractions on enriched cultures of water from the study area. Once the DNA was extracted it was used to detect pathogen gene markers using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Photo Credit: Heather Johnson, USGS.
A Microbiologist Pouring a Sample into a Filter Cup
A USGS microbiologist pours a groundwater sample into a sterile filter cup. This water sample will be pulled through a 0.2 micron filter, and will ultimately be used to characterize what bacteria are present within the groundwater sample. Photo Credit: Carrie E. Givens, USGS.

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Page Last Modified: 18-Apr-2018 @ 01:38:37 PM EDT