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Open AccessArticle

Aerosol Microbiome over the Mediterranean Sea Diversity and Abundance

Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, National Institute of Oceanography, Haifa 3108000, Israel
Marine Meteorology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, 7 Grace Hopper Avenue, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(8), 440;
Received: 18 June 2019 / Revised: 20 July 2019 / Accepted: 24 July 2019 / Published: 1 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Detection and Monitoring of Bioaerosols)
Prokaryotic microbes can become aerosolized and deposited into new environments located thousands of kilometers away from their place of origin. The Mediterranean Sea is an oligotrophic to ultra-oligotrophic marginal sea, which neighbors northern Africa (a major source of natural aerosols) and Europe (a source of mostly anthropogenic aerosols). Previous studies demonstrated that airborne bacteria deposited during dust events over the Mediterranean Sea may significantly alter the ecology and function of the surface seawater layer, yet little is known about their abundance and diversity during ‘background’ non-storm conditions. Here, we describe the abundance and genetic diversity of airborne bacteria in 16 air samples collected over an East-West transect of the entire Mediterranean Sea during non-storm conditions in April 2011. The results show that airborne bacteria represent diverse groups with the most abundant bacteria from the Firmicutes (Bacilli and Clostridia) and Proteobacteria (Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria) phyla. Most of the bacteria in our samples have previously been observed in the air at other open ocean locations, in the air over the Mediterranean Sea during dust storms, and in the Mediterranean seawater. Airborne bacterial abundance ranged from 0.7 × 104 to 2.5 × 104 cells m−3 air, similar to abundances at other oceanic regimes. Our results demonstrate that airborne bacterial diversity is positively correlated with the mineral dust content in the aerosols and was spatially separated between major basins of the Mediterranean Sea. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive biogeographical dataset to assess the diversity and abundance of airborne microbes over the Mediterranean Sea. Our results shed light on the spatiotemporal distribution of airborne microbes and may have implications for dispersal and distribution of microbes (biogeography) in the ocean. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioaerosols; airborne bacteria; Mediterranean Sea; aeromicrobiology bioaerosols; airborne bacteria; Mediterranean Sea; aeromicrobiology
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Mescioglu, E.; Rahav, E.; Belkin, N.; Xian, P.; Eizenga, J.M.; Vichik, A.; Herut, B.; Paytan, A. Aerosol Microbiome over the Mediterranean Sea Diversity and Abundance. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 440.

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