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Open AccessArticle

The Relationship between Air-Mass Trajectories and the Abundance of Dust-Borne Prokaryotes at the SE Mediterranean Sea

1
Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, National Institute of Oceanography, Haifa 8030, Israel
2
Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(5), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10050280
Received: 1 May 2019 / Revised: 16 May 2019 / Accepted: 18 May 2019 / Published: 20 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Detection and Monitoring of Bioaerosols)
Airborne prokaryotes are transported along with dust/aerosols, yet very little attention is given to their temporal variability above the oceans and the factors that govern their abundance. We analyzed the abundance of autotrophic (cyanobacteria) and heterotopic airborne microbes in 34 sampling events between 2015–2018 at a coastal site in the SE Mediterranean Sea. We show that airborne autotrophic (0.2–7.6 cells × 103 m−3) and heterotrophic (0.2–30.6 cells × 103 m−3) abundances were affected by the origin and air mass trajectory, and the concentration of dust/aerosols in the air, while seasonality was not coherent. The averaged ratio between heterotrophic and autotrophic prokaryotes in marine-dominated trajectories was ~1.7 ± 0.6, significantly lower than for terrestrial routes (6.8 ± 6.1). Airborne prokaryotic abundances were linearly and positively correlated to the concentrations of total aerosol, while negatively correlated with the aerosol’s anthropogenic fraction (using Pb/Al or Cu/Al ratios as proxies). While aerosols may play a major role in dispersing terrestrial and marine airborne microbes in the SE Mediterranean Sea, the mechanisms involved in the dispersal and diversity of airborne microorganisms remain to be studied and should include standardization in collection and analysis protocols. View Full-Text
Keywords: airborne bacteria; airborne cyanobacteria; dust deposition; Southeastern Mediterranean Sea airborne bacteria; airborne cyanobacteria; dust deposition; Southeastern Mediterranean Sea
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Rahav, E.; Belkin, N.; Paytan, A.; Herut, B. The Relationship between Air-Mass Trajectories and the Abundance of Dust-Borne Prokaryotes at the SE Mediterranean Sea. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 280.

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