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Effects of heavy rainfall on the composition of airborne bacterial communities

Jang, GwangIl, Hwang, ChungYeon, Cho, ByungCheol
Frontiers of environmental science & engineering 2018 v.12 no.2 pp. 12
Carnobacteriaceae, Clostridiales, Propionibacteriaceae, adverse effects, aerosols, air, bacteria, bacterial communities, community structure, genes, humans, plant health, rain, ribosomal RNA, sequence analysis, wet deposition, Korean Peninsula
Wet deposition scavenges particles and particle-associated bacteria from the air column, but the impact of raindrops on various surfaces on Earth causes emission of surface-associated bacteria into the air column. Thus, after rainfall, these two mechanisms are expected to cause changes in airborne bacterial community composition (BCC). In this study, aerosol samples were collected at a suburban site in Seoul, Korea before and after three heavy rainfall events in April, May, and July 2011. BCC was investigated by pyrosequencing the 16S rRNA gene in aerosol samples. Interestingly, the relative abundance of non-spore forming Actinobacteria operational taxonomic units (OTUs) was always higher in post-rain aerosol samples. In particular, the absolute and relative abundances of airborne Propionibacteriaceae always increased after rainfall, whereas those of airborne Firmicutes, including Carnobacteriaceae and Clostridiales, consistently decreased. Marine bacterial sequences, which were temporally important in aerosol samples, also decreased after rainfall events. Further, increases in pathogen-like sequences were often observed in post-rain air samples. Rainfall events seemed to affect airborne BCCs by the combined action of the two mechanisms, with potentially adverse effects on human and plant health.