BIOGEOGRAPHY

Unevenly blowing in the wind

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Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 877
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6237.877-b

Scientists, including Charles Darwin, first reported airborne microbes nearly two centuries ago. Many of these organisms cannot be cultured, and only recently have molecular approaches allowed scientists to begin to identify them. To better understand the distribution of airborne fungi, Barberán et al. examined dust samples collected from homes across the United States. They found impressive microbial diversity in them, with only about a quarter of species being known. Some fungi exhibited strong geographic patterns, such as the allergy-triggering Alternaria spp. in the Great Plains and Cladosporium in humid regions. Cities showed more homogeneous distributions.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 5756 (2015).

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