Phylogenetic diversity and vertical distribution of a halobacterial community in the atmosphere of an Asian dust (KOSA) source region, Dunhuang City

Air Quality Atmosphere & Health (Impact Factor: 1.98). 1(2):81-89. DOI: 10.1007/s11869-008-0016-9

ABSTRACT The microbial communities transported by Asian desert dust (KOSA) events have attracted much attention as bioaerosols because
the transported microorganisms are thought to influence the downwind ecosystems in Korea and Japan. We have analyzed bioaerosol
samples collected at 10 and 800m above the ground within the KOSA source area, Dunhuang City, China. The samples were studied
by epifluorescent microscopy, revealing the presence of bacterial cells attached to mineral particles. The microorganisms
in the bioaerosol samples were able to grow in media containing up to 20% NaCl, suggesting that bacteria tolerant to high
salinities remain viable in the atmosphere. Phylogenetic analysis using 16S rDNA sequences revealed that halobacterial communities
in the bioaerosol samples collected at both 10 and 800m above the ground comprised a few bacterial species related to Bacillus pumilus and Staphylococcus spp. The active mixing processes of the boundary layer presumably transports viable halotolerant bacteria into the free atmosphere,
where the long-range atmospheric transport of desert dust is frequently observed.

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