Taxon-specific aerosolization of bacteria and viruses in an experimental ocean-atmosphere mesocosm

Michaud, JM, Thompson LR, Kaul D, Espinoza JL, Richter RA, Xu ZZ, Lee C, Pham KM, Beall CM, Malfatti F, Azam F, Knight R, Burkart MD, Dupont CL, Prather KA.  2018.  Taxon-specific aerosolization of bacteria and viruses in an experimental ocean-atmosphere mesocosm. Nature Communications. 9

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community, enrichment, environment, generation, marine viruses, microlayers, physiology, phytoplankton blooms, quality, Science & Technology - Other Topics, sea spray aerosol, surface


Ocean-derived, airborne microbes play important roles in Earth's climate system and human health, yet little is known about factors controlling their transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere. Here, we study microbiomes of isolated sea spray aerosol (SSA) collected in a unique ocean-atmosphere facility and demonstrate taxon-specific aerosolization of bacteria and viruses. These trends are conserved within taxonomic orders and classes, and temporal variation in aerosolization is similarly shared by related taxa. We observe enhanced transfer into SSA of Actinobacteria, certain Gammaproteobacteria, and lipid-enveloped viruses; conversely, Flavobacteriia, some Alphaproteobacteria, and Caudovirales are generally underrepresented in SSA. Viruses do not transfer to SSA as efficiently as bacteria. The enrichment of mycolic acid-coated Corynebacteriales and lipid-enveloped viruses (inferred from genomic comparisons) suggests that hydrophobic properties increase transport to the sea surface and SSA. Our results identify taxa relevant to atmospheric processes and a framework to further elucidate aerosolization mechanisms influencing microbial and viral transport pathways.






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