Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Michelle A. Jusino

Research Biologist
Biological and Environmental Influences on Forest Health and Productivity
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2366
United States
Current Research

My research uncovers the secret lives of animals and fungi to to help managers make science-based decisions by addressing a broad range of research goals including the ecology and evolution of symbioses and the conservation of imperiled and endangered species. I have expertise in mycology, bioinformatics and molecular techniques, molecular ecology, ornithology, and conservation & wildlife ecology. My work has been particularly valuable in plant pathogen vector systems where I have characterized entire communities of fungi vectored into living trees by wood-boring beetles and cavity-excavating birds. My dietary ecology work has elucidated the ecosystem services we are losing with the decline of little-brown bats from white-nose syndrome (WNS), an important fungal disease of bats that was first detected in North America in 2006. 

My current projects include:

  • Studying fungal community structure and dynamics in decaying wood
  • Describing novel fungal symbionts of ambrosia beetles
  • Developing positive sequencing controls (“mock communities”) for high-throughput amplicon sequencing of environmental DNA
  • Investigating the relationships between birds and fungi
    • Describing symbioses between cavity excavating birds and decay fungi
    • Exploring avian dispersal of fungi
  • Using DNA-based molecular techniques to describe the diets of bats, birds, and other animals from fecal samples
Why This Research Is Important

Although generally underappreciated, fungi serve many vital ecosystem roles. Fungi are the primary recyclers of dead biomass, releasing carbon and other nutrients. For instance, the release of carbon from dead wood depends on decay fungi, thus, a better understanding of fungal community dynamics is necessary for predicting forest ecosystem function and stability in a changing world. Many wood-dwelling animals, including woodpeckers and wood-boring beetles, facilitate the dispersal and establishment of fungi in forest systems. Consequently, a complete understanding of how fungi maintain ecosystem processes requires that we understand the relationships between fungi and their animal vectors.

  • Florida State Univeristy, B.S., Biology,
  • Virginia Tech, Ph. D., Biological Sciences,
Professional Organizations
  • Mycological Society of America,  2011 - Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Citations of Non-Forest Service Publications
  • Jusino, M.A., J. Skelton, CC Chen, J. Hulcr, and M.E. Smith. 2020. Sexual reproduction and saprotrophic dominance by the ambrosial fungus Flavodon subulatus (= Flavodon ambrosius). Fungal Ecology. 

  • Vaziri, G.J., M.A. Jusino, J.M. Palmer, M.T. Brewer, and J.S. Adelman. 2021. Anthelmintic drugs modulate the acute phase immune response but not the microbiome in wild song sparrows. Ornithology (formerly known as The Auk).

  • Grupe, A.C., M.A. Jusino, A.B. Mujic, B. Spakes-Richter, G. Bonito, T. Brenneman, and M.E. Smith. 2021. Effects of field fumigation and inoculation with the pecan truffle (Tuber lyonii) on the fungal community of pecan (Carya illinoinensis) seedlings over five years. Frontiers in Microbiology.

  • Hulcr, J., D.F. Gomez, J. Skelton, A.J. Johnson, S. Adams, Y. Li, M.A. Jusino, M.E. Smith. 2021. Invasion of an inconspicuous ambrosia beetle and fungus may affect wood decay in Southeastern North America. Biological Invasions.

  • Corrales, A., H. Xu, R. Garibay-Orijel, C. Alfonso-Corrado, G. Williams-Linera, C. Chu, C. Truong, M.A. Jusino, R. Clark-Tapia, J.W. Dalling, Y. Liu, and M.E. Smith. 2021. Fungal communities associated with roots of two closely related Juglandaceae species with a disjunct distribution in the tropics. Fungal Ecology.

  • O'Rourke, D.R., N.A. Bokulich, M.A. Jusino, M.D. MacManes, J.T Foster. 2020. A total crapshoot? Evaluating bioinformatic decisions in animal diet metabarcoding analyses. Ecology and Evolution.

  • Hulcr, J., I. Barnes, W. de Beer, T. Duong, R. Gazis-Seregina, A.J. Johnson, M.A. Jusino, M.T. Kasson, Y. Li, S. Lynch, C. Mayers, T. Musvuugwa, F. Roets, K. Seltmann, D. Six, D. Vanderpool, C. Villari. 2020. Bark beetle mycobiome: collaboratively defined research priorities on a widespread insect-fungus symbiosis. Symbiosis. 

  • Elliott, T.F., M.A. Jusino, J.M. Trappe, H. Lepp, G.A. Ballard, J.J. Bruhl, and K. Vernes. 2019. The ecological significance of symbiotic interactions between birds and fungi. Fungal Diversity.

  • Skelton, J., A.J. Johnson, M.A. Jusino, C.C. Bateman, and J. Hulcr. 2019. A selective fungal transport organ (mycangium) maintains coarse phylogenetic congruence between fungus-farming ambrosia beetles and their symbionts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

  • Loyd, A.L., B.S. Richter, M.A. Jusino, C. Truong, M.E. Smith, R.A. Blanchette, and J.A. Smith. 2018. Identifying the “mushroom of immortality”: assessing the Ganoderma species composition in commercial reishi products. Frontiers in Microbiology.