Articles | Volume 18, issue 10
Research article
24 May 2018
Research article |  | 24 May 2018

Characterization of atmospheric bioaerosols along the transport pathway of Asian dust during the Dust-Bioaerosol 2016 Campaign

Kai Tang, Zhongwei Huang, Jianping Huang, Teruya Maki, Shuang Zhang, Atsushi Shimizu, Xiaojun Ma, Jinsen Shi, Jianrong Bi, Tian Zhou, Guoyin Wang, and Lei Zhang

Abstract. Previous studies have shown that bioaerosols are injected into the atmosphere during dust events. These bioaerosols may affect leeward ecosystems, human health, and agricultural productivity and may even induce climate change. However, bioaerosol dynamics have rarely been investigated along the transport pathway of Asian dust, especially in China where dust events affect huge areas and massive numbers of people. Given this situation, the Dust-Bioaerosol (DuBi) Campaign was carried out over northern China, and the effects of dust events on the amount and diversity of bioaerosols were investigated. The results indicate that the number of bacteria showed remarkable increases during the dust events, and the diversity of the bacterial communities also increased significantly, as determined by means of microscopic observations with 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining and MiSeq sequencing analysis. These results indicate that dust clouds can carry many bacteria of various types into downwind regions and may have potentially important impacts on ecological environments and climate change. The abundances of DAPI-stained bacteria in the dust samples were 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than those in the non-dust samples and reached 105–106 particles m−3. Moreover, the concentration ratios of DAPI-stained bacteria to yellow fluorescent particles increased from 5.1 % ± 6.3 % (non-dust samples) to 9.8 % ± 6.3 % (dust samples). A beta diversity analysis of the bacterial communities demonstrated the distinct clustering of separate prokaryotic communities in the dust and non-dust samples. Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria remained the dominant phyla in all samples. As for Erenhot, the relative abundances of Acidobacteria and Chloroflexi had a remarkable rise in dust events. In contrast, the relative abundances of Acidobacteria and Chloroflexi in non-dust samples of R-DzToUb were greater than those in dust samples. Alphaproteobacteria made the major contribution to the increasing relative abundance of the phylum Proteobacteria in all dust samples. The relative abundance of Firmicutes did not exceed 5 % in all the air samples, even though it is the predominant phylum in the surface sand samples from the Gobi Desert. These results illustrate that the bacterial community contained in dust aerosol samples has a different pattern compared with non-dust aerosol samples, and the relative abundances of airborne bacteria are different from those in the surface sand or soil and differ by location and transmitting vector.

Short summary
To our knowledge, this is the first simultaneous field measurement of bioaerosols in dust events at four sites along the transport pathway of Asian dust. The samples were analyzed by means of fluorescence microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and MiSeq sequencing analysis. The results indicate that dust clouds can carry many bacteria of various types into downwind regions, the alpha and beta diversity of which were investigated.
Final-revised paper