OWML specializes in the detection of microbiological indicators and study processes that affect their occurrence and distribution in the environment. We work with government agencies, academia and public utilities on topics including harmful algal blooms, predictive modeling for recreational and source water quality, rapid microbial detection, microbial source tracking, and biosecurity research.
The OWML offers a wide range of sample analyses, media, and other microbiological supplies for USGS Water Science Centers across the nation. Analyses include quantification of standard bacterial indicators and other bacteria in water or sediment, and quantification or detection of coliphage in water.
Environmental DNA (eDNA)
Environmental DNA is DNA that is shed into the environment from a live organism that can be used to identify the presence of the organism.
Identifying the presence of specific pathogens can help understand sources of fecal contamination. Because viruses are often species-specific, monitoring for human-specific viruses (enteric viruses) can provide direct evidence of a human source.
Taste and odor issues
Cyanobacteria and filamentous bacteria in the class Actinomyces can produce chemicals such as MIB and geosmin which are odorous chemicals that can impact drinking water. These chemicals are not harmful but are considered “nuisance” constituents in natural waters.
Bacterial and viral indicators
Cultural methods to determine concentrations of fecal indicators in environmental waters
Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs)
CyanoHABs are a large growth of cyanobacteria (not algae) that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.
Microbial Source Tracking
Microbial source tracking (MST) is a term used for the process of identifying the source of fecal contamination in the environment.