Ronald F TurcoRonald F. Turco

Professor and Department Head

Department: Agronomy
Phone: 765.494.8077
Fax: 765.496.2926
Office: Lilly 2-438

Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Ronald Turco is the Director of the Indiana Water Resources Research Center (  His research is concentrated on understanding how the behavior of microorganism and the processes they control in natural systems, is influenced by human activity. In particular his group has used enzyme activity, phospholipid analysis, and molecular techniques to understand community structure and function as impacted by management and introduction of materials.  His early work has concentrated on the fate of pesticides and organics in soil systems. His group has also addressed rhizosphere ecology and managed systems such as turfgrass. His current projects are divided across three theme areas: understanding the fate of introduced E. coli in soil and water and the role these processes play in food contamination, developing a better predictive capacity to understand the environmental fate of manufactured nano materials (fullerenes, single wall carbon nanotubes and nanometals) in soil and water and defining the unintended consequences of using our soil resources for biofuel production. His work on environmental pathogens led to the development of a USDA national facilitation project.  Dr. Turco teaches two graduate level courses: Soil Microbiology and a new course tentatively titled Biotransformation of Anthropogenic Molecules. He also teaches an undergraduate course on Soil Ecology.

Awards and Honors

Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Socienty – 2005
Purdue University Provost Office “Acorn Award”  (NIRT/Nanotech Project) – 2004
Purdue University College of Agriculture Team Award (Turfgrass Team) – 2004
Mid America CropLife Association Indiana's Water Guardian Award – 2003
William G. Wilber and John S. Zogorski Leadership Award, Indiana Water Resources Research Association – 2000
Education and Information Award Conservation Education; Soil and Water Conservation Society, Hoosier Chap –1990
Sigma Xi –1987
Phi Sigma (Biological Honorary) – 1984

Recent Publications

Hernandez-Ramirez,  G.,  S. M. Brouder, M. D. Ruark, and R. F. Turco. 2011. Nitrate, phosphate, and ammonium loads at subsurface drains: agroecosystems and nitrogen management. Journal of Environmental Quality 40: 1-12.

Raizman E.A,  M. Y. Habteselassie, C.C. Wu, T.L. Lin, M. Negron and R.F. Turco.  201X. Leaching of Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis in soil under in vitro conditions.  In Press: Veterinary Medicine International

Turco, R.F., M. Bischoff, Z. Tong and L. Nies.  201X.   Environmental implications of nanomaterials: are we studying the right thing? Submitted: Invited review article Current Opinion in Biotechnology

Habteselassie, M., M. Bischoff, B. Applegate, B. Reuhs, and R. F. Turco. 2010. Understanding the role of agricultural practices in the potential colonization and contamination by E. coli in rhizosphere of fresh produce. Journal of Food Protection. 73: 2001-2009.

Carrero-Colón M., R.F. Turco and Gene Wichman  2010.  Taxonomy, Phylogeny and Physiology of Fecal Indicator Bacteria. The Fecal Bacteria Sadowsky and Whittman Ed.

Laban, G., L.F. Nies, R.F. Turco, J.W. Bickham and M. S. Sepúlveda  2010.  The effects of silver nanoparticles on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) embryos. Ecotoxicology 19:185-195

Ruark, M., S.M. Brouder and R.F. Turco 2009. Dissolved Organic Carbon Losses from Tile Drained Agroecosystems. Journal of Environmental Quality 38:1205-1215 .

Sadowsky, M.J., W.C. Koskinen, M. Bischoff, B.L., Barber, B.L., J.M., Becker and, R.F. Turco 2009. Rapid and Complete Degradation of the Herbicide Picloram by Lipomyces kononenkoaee. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 57:4878-4882.

Habteselassie, M., M. Bischoff, E. Blume, B. Applegate, B. Reuhs, S. Brouder, and R. F. Turco. 2008. Environmental controls on the fate of E. coli in soil. Water Air and Soil Pollution.190:143-155

Nyberg, L., R.F. Turco and L. Nies. 2008. Assessing the impact of nanomaterials on anaerobic microbial communities.  Environmental Sciences and Technology 42: 1938–1943.

del Busto-Ramos, M., M. Budzik, C. Corvalan, M. Morgan, R. Turco and B. Applegate. 2008. Development of an on-line biosensor for in situ monitoring of chlorine dioxide gas disinfection efficacy.  Applied Microbiology Biotechnology. 78:573-580.

Farris, L., M. Habteselassie, L. Perry, Y.Chen, B. Reuhs, R. Turco, and B. Applegate. 2008. Luminescence techniques for detection of bacterial pathogens. In M. Zourob and T. Turner (Eds.) Principles of Bacterial Detection: Biosensors, Recognition Receptors and Microsystems. Springer Publishing, New York.  pp. 213-230

Liu, J.  L.S. Lee, L.F. Nies, C. H. Nakatsu and R.F. Turco. 2007. Biotransformation of 8:2 Fluorotelomer Alcohol in Soil and by Soil Bacteria Isolates. Environmental Science and Technology. 42: 1938–1943

Tong, Z., M. Bischoff, L. F. Nies, B. Applegate, and R. F. Turco 2007. Impact of Fullerene (C60) on a soil microbial community. Environmental Sciences and Technology 41:2985-2991

Joynt J., M. Bischoff, R.F. Turco, A. Konopka and C. H. Nakatsu. 2006.  Microbial Community Analysis of Soils Contaminated with Lead, Chromium and Petroleum Hydrocarbons Microbial Ecology. 51:209-219

Edwards, I., A. Gillespie J. Chen, K. Johnsen and R.F. Turco. 2005. Spatial distribution of ammonium and calcium in optimally fertilized pine plantation soils. Soil Science Society American Journal 69:1813-1821.

Shi, W., M. Bischoff, R.F. Turco and A. Konopka.  2005. Microbial catabolic diversity in soils contaminated with hydrocarbons and heavy metals.  Environmental Sciences and Technology 39:1974-1979.

Bischoff, M., Lee, L.S., and R.F. Turco.  2005. Accelerated degradation of N,N'-dibutylurea (DBU) upon repeated application, Biodegradation 16:265-2735

Professional Preparation

  • ​Ph.D., Soil Microbiology, Washington State University​
  • B.S., Soil Science, University of Idaho
  • B.S., Bacteriology, University of Idaho