Effect of Dust Storms on the Atmospheric Microbiome in the Eastern Mediterranean.

PubMed ID: 27001166


Mazar Y, Cytryn E, Erel Y, Rudich Y

Environ Sci Technol. Apr 2016. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b06348

We evaluated the impact of Saharan dust storms on the local airborne microbiome in a city in the Eastern Mediterranean area. Samples of particles with diameter less than 10 μm were collected during two spring seasons on both dusty and nondusty days. DNA was extracted, and partial 16S rRNA gene amplicons were sequenced using the Illumina platform. Bioinformatic analysis showed the effect of dust events on the diversity of the atmospheric microbiome. The relative abundance of desert soil-associated bacteria increased during dust events, while the relative abundance of anthropogenic-influenced taxa decreased. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction measurements of selected clinically significant antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) showed that their relative abundance decreased during dust events. The ARG profiles on dust-free days were similar to those in aerosol collected in a poultry house, suggesting a strong agricultural influence on the local ambient profiles. We conclude that dust storms enrich the ambient airborne microbiome with new soil-derived bacteria that disappear as the dust settles, suggesting that the bacteria are transported attached to the dust particles. Dust storms do not seem to be an important vector for transport of probed ARGs.