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Spatial and seasonal variation of the airborne microbiome in a rapidly developing city of China

Li, Hu, Zhou, Xin-Yuan, Yang, Xiao-Ru, Zhu, Yong-Guan, Hong, You-Wei, Su, Jian-Qiang
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.665 pp. 61-68
Acinetobacter, Burkholderia, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus thermophilus, bacterial communities, genes, human diseases, human health, humans, microbiome, microorganisms, pathogens, ribosomal RNA, risk, seasonal variation, spring, summer, urbanization, China
Exposure to airborne microbes (AM) can affect the human microbiome and has various consequences for human health. Investigating the profiles of AM and the potential bacterial pathogens within, along with the factors influencing their community, is pivotal for understanding the impact of AM on human health. In this study, we collected AM during spring and summer from 11 sites with various levels of urbanization in the city of Xiamen, China. Bacterial community compositions of the AM were determined based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Firmicutes and Proteobacteria were the predominating phyla in the airborne bacterial communities, and a higher (P < 0.05) diversity of AM was found during the summer as compared to the spring. Significant differences in the community structure of the AM and the potential bacterial pathogens within airborne microbes were observed among the seasons and the sites with different levels of urbanization. Increases and/or decreases in the abundance of Bacillus and Acinetobacter could explain a major part of the variations in the AM community compositions. The proportion of potential bacterial pathogens during the summer was significantly higher (P < 0.01) than in the spring, and the relative abundance of several bacterial pathogens (i.e. Burkholderia multivoran, Enterococcus faecium and Streptococcus thermophilus) related to human diseases (39.8% of total pathogens on average) increased with increasing urbanization levels, suggesting that urbanization can increase the AM-associated human health risk.