Microbiome

Global aeroplankton dispersal

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Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, pp. 1125-1126
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6419.1125-g

Airborne particulates include large numbers of living organisms, as well as dust, pollutants, and other chemicals. Cáliz et al. collected aeroplankton fortnightly for 7 years in the Spanish Pyrenees. High-throughput sequencing of 16S and 18S amplicons identified microbes, including potential pathogens, that had made landfall in rain and snow. Distinct seasonal and climate signals in the data associated with the origin of the air masses. For example, winter microbial fallout originated from as far away as the North American taiga, and summer-occurring organisms contained desert-adapted bacteria from North Africa. Over the collection period, air-mass origins shifted, possibly as a result of climate change. Most atmospheric microbes are cosmopolitan, and it seems the upper atmosphere acts as a global highway for many taxa.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, 12229 (2018).

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