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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center

Muruleedhara Byappanahalli


Microbiologist Lake Michigan Ecological Station Email: Phone: (219) 926-8336 ext. 421 Fax: (219) 929-5792 Professional Page:


B.S. (Agriculture), University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India, 1979
M.S. (Agricultural Microbiology), University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India, 1982
M.S. (Microbiology), University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1996
Ph.D. (Environmental Microbiology), University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2000

Current Studies

Population Structure, Genetic Relatedness, and Potential Sources of FIB and Associated Human Pathogens in Nonenteric Habitats

Escherichia coli (E. coli) and enterococci occurrence in nonenteric habitats (e.g., soil, vegetation) has been documented since the early 1960s. While the original source of these bacteria remains speculative, recent studies show that populations of E. coli and enterococci are genetically different from those that are commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans. The ability of these bacteria to survive and grow under ambient conditions, as shown in numerous studies, has led many to believe that some human bacterial pathogens with comparable physiology and genetics (of E. coli) (e.g., Salmonella, pathogenic E. coli strains) can similarly survive and may even grow in nonenteric habitats. Thus, a clear understanding of the population structure, genetic relatedness and potential sources of E. coli and other enteric bacteria is especially critical to correctly identify contaminant sources, to determine if there were any ecological roles (e.g., organic matter decomposition, plant protection from pathogens) for these enteric bacteria in soil or other habitats, and importantly to protect the public from exposure to harmful pathogens in contaminated waters.

Principal Investigator: Murulee Byappanahalli
Microbial Ecology of FIB in Natural Environments: Sources, Persistence, and Growth Indicator Bacteria and Associated Pathogens in Great Lakes Coastal Watersheds

There is growing evidence that fecal indicator bacteria (FIB; E. coli, enterococci) that are routinely used as pathogen indicators in environmental waters are also found in nonenteric habitats. Therefore, understanding their ecology (i.e., survival, persistence, and ambient growth) in nonenteric habitats is critical for correctly identifying contaminant sources, improving predictive modeling, developing new or improved criteria, and identifying and quantifying risk, as well as protecting the public from potential exposure to harmful pathogens in environmental waters.

Principal Investigator: Murulee Byappanahalli
Beach Monitoring for Human Health, Cladophora, and Botulism Outbreaks

Several studies have shown that Cladophora mats are a source of enteric human bacterial pathogens (e.g., Salmonella, Campylobacter), potentially influencing shoreline water quality and affecting swimmers health. Equally concerning is the recent hypothesis that Cladophora may have a role in the spread of botulism disease in fish-eating birds of the Great Lakes. A high incidence of botulism in birds parallels with increased Cladophora accumulations in shoreline waters. However, Cladophora role in this disease pathway remains to be elucidated. Moreover, quantifiable (i.e., measurable) health risk to humans or wildlife from direct exposure to Cladophora or Cladophora-laden water/contaminated beach sand deserves further investigation.

Principal Investigator: Murulee Byappanahalli

Recent Publications

Chan Lan Chuna, Julie R. Peller, Dawn Shively, Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, Richard L. Whitman, Christopher Staley, Qian Zhang, Satoshi Ishii, and Michael J. Sadowsky 2017. Virulence and biodegradation potential of dynamic microbial communities associated with decaying Cladophora in Great Lakes. Elsevier . Science of the Total Environment . 574 872-880.
Contribution #2089
Meredith B. Nevers, Kasia Przybyla-Kelly, Ashley Spoljaric, Dawn Shively, Richard L. Whitman, and Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli 2016. Freshwater wrack along Great Lakes coasts harbors Escherichia coli: Potential for bacterial transfer between watershed environments. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research . 42 (4). 760-767.
Contribution #2036
Chan Lan Chun, Chase I. Kahn, Andrew J. Borchert, Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, Richard L. Whitman, Julie Peller, Christina Pier, Guangyun Lin, Eric A. Johnson, and Michael J. Sadowsky 2015. Prevalence of toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum associated with the macroalga Cladophora in three Great Lakes: Growth and management. Elsevier . Science of the Total Environment . 511 523-529.
Contribution #1911
Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, Meredith B. Nevers, Richard L. Whitman, Zhongfu Ge, Dawn Shively, Ashley Spoljaric, Katarzyna Przybyla-Kelly 2015. Wildlife, urban inputs, and landscape configuration are responsible for degraded swimming water quality at an embayed beach. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research . 41 (1). 156-163.
Contribution #1894
Roger S. Fujioka, Helena M. Solo-Gabriele, Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, and Marek Kirs 2015. U.S. Recreational Water Quality Criteria: A Vision for the Future. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute . International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health . 12 (7). 7752-7776.
Contribution #1944

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