U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

Microbial-Contaminant Interactions Laboratory — Boulder, Colorado

About the Laboratory

The microbiologists at the Microbial-Contaminant Interactions Laboratory (MCIL) conduct research involving fate and transport of pathogens and interactions of microorganisms with chemical contaminants in aquatic systems that can impact the health of humans and other organisms. The research is applied to a wide variety of environmental media (e.g. lakes, rivers, sediment-water interfaces and karst-limestone, fractured rock, and granular aquifers).

A USGS scientist prepares a sample within a glove box
A USGS scientist prepares a sample to test the effect of antibiotics on denitrifying bacteria within a glove box. A glove box allows scientists to work with samples in an anaerobic (no oxygen) atmosphere, the conditions under which denitrification occurs. Photo credit: Jennifer C. Underwood, USGS.

Key Analytical Capabilities

  • Class 2 Biological Safety Laboratory for pathogen studies
  • Identification/quantification of functional genes
  • 1- and 2-D transport assays of microbial transport
  • Enumerations of virus particles, bacteria, protozoa
  • Microbial identifications
  • Molecular genetics-based community structure

Key Instrumentation

  • Brookhaven Zetameter (determining electrophoteic mobilities/surface charge of microorganisms)
  • Laser-driven flow cytometer for quantification, sizing, and morphology determinations of microorganisms)
  • Biorad qPCR for amplification of nucleic acid sequences
  • Epipfluoresce microcroscope with computer-coupled image analysis (enumerations of fluorochrome-labeled microorganisms)
  • Gel electrophoresis for comparison of DNA samples
  • Triaxial cells for examining flow characteristics in rock cores.


  Get More Information on Our Capabilities

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Page Last Modified: 18-Apr-2018 @ 11:37:40 AM EDT