Fungi diversity in PM2. 5 and PM1 at the summit of Mt. Tai: abundance, size distribution, and seasonal variation
Abstract. Fungi are ubiquitous throughout the near-surface atmosphere, where they represent an important component of primary biological aerosol particles. This study combined internal transcribed spacer region sequencing and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to investigate the ambient fungi in fine (PM2. 5, 50 % cutoff aerodynamic diameter Da50 = 2.5 µm, geometric standard deviation of collection efficiency σg = 1.2) and submicron (PM1, Da50 = 1 µm, σg = 1.2) particles at the summit of Mt. Tai located in the North China Plain, China. Fungal abundance values were 9.4 × 104 and 1.3 × 105 copies m−3 in PM2. 5 and PM1, respectively. Most of the fungal sequences were from Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, which are known to actively discharge spores into the atmosphere. The fungal community showed a significant seasonal shift across different size fractions according to Metastats analysis and the Kruskal–Wallis rank sum test. The abundance of Glomerella and Zasmidium increased in larger particles in autumn, whereas Penicillium, Bullera, and Phaeosphaeria increased in smaller particles in winter. Environmental factors, namely Ca2+, humidity, and temperature, were found to be crucial for the seasonal variation in the fungal community. This study might serve as an important reference for fungal contribution to primary biological aerosol particles.