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Muruleedhara (Murulee) N Byappanahalli, PhD

I am a Staff Scientist (Research Microbiologist) with the USGS Great Lakes Science Center’s Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station in Chesterton, Indiana, conducting research in restoration and conservation biology programs, with projects in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Emerging technologies, such as eDNA, high throughput sequencing, and microbiome, are routinely used in these projects.

My research at the Great Lakes Science Center’s (GLSC) Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station (GLSC-LMERS) spans across aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, focusing on restoration and conservation biology programs. Environmental microbiology and environmental genomics are key disciplines in these projects. 

In previous work, I studied the distribution and population characteristics of enteric bacteria in Great Lakes watersheds (streams and riparian soils, beach sand, aquatic vegetation) and their impacts on beneficial use impairments such as water quality. I also explored the best management practices to restore these degraded waterways. 

My microbial research in terrestrial programs is a collaborative effort devoted to understanding the biology of plant invasion. Specifically, I am exploring how soil microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) might augment or diminish this invasive process, using the Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) as a model plant species. Much of this his research is conducted in public lands within the Indiana Dunes National Park. 
My research in environmental genomics, which is collaborative, brings an array of emerging technologies in support of ongoing fisheries assessment and conservation programs. I use environmental DNA (eDNA), autonomous sample processors, and high throughput sequencing (HTS) methods, including metabarcoding and shotgun sequencing, in conjunction with traditional surveys (e.g., trawling). 

Recently, I have been applying eDNA and HTS tools to identify pollinator species (bees and bee communities) in grasslands from different geographical areas, by capturing eDNA left behind by pollinators visiting flowering plants. The main goal of this Ecosystem Mission Area (EMA) funded project, which involves multiple USGS Science Centers (including GLSC-LMERS), is to develop new DNA-based tools to improve existing monitoring programs for pollinators, including listed/endangered species. 

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government