Characterisation of Arctic Bacterial Communities in the Air above Svalbard

Cuthbertson, Lewis, Amores-Arrocha, Herminia, Malard, Lucie, Els, Nora, Sattler, Birgit and Pearce, David (2017) Characterisation of Arctic Bacterial Communities in the Air above Svalbard. Biology, 6 (2). pp. 29-51. ISSN 2079-7737

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Atmospheric dispersal of bacteria is increasingly acknowledged as an important factor influencing bacterial community biodiversity, biogeography and bacteria-human interactions, including those linked to human health. However, knowledge about patterns in microbial aerobiology is still relatively scarce, and this can be attributed, in part, to a lack of consensus on appropriate sampling and analytical methodology. In this study, three different methods were used to investigate aerial biodiversity over Svalbard: impaction, membrane filtration and drop plates. Sites around Svalbard were selected due to their relatively remote location, low human population, geographical location with respect to air movement and the tradition and history of scientific investigation on the archipelago, ensuring the presence of existing research infrastructure. The aerial bacterial biodiversity found was similar to that described in other aerobiological studies from both polar and non-polar environments, with Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes being the predominant groups. Twelve different phyla were detected in the air collected above Svalbard, although the diversity was considerably lower than in urban environments elsewhere. However, only 58 of 196 bacterial genera detected were consistently present, suggesting potentially higher levels of heterogeneity. Viable bacteria were present at all sampling locations, showing that living bacteria are ubiquitous in the air around Svalbard. Sampling location influenced the results obtained, as did sampling method. Specifically, impaction with a Sartorius MD8 produced a significantly higher number of viable colony forming units (CFUs) than drop plates alone.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The authors would like to acknowledge funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 675546, the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund (project 14–141), and Mr. and Mrs. Ronald McNulty who provided a studentship for Lewis Cuthbertson. They would also like to acknowledge assistance in the field from both course guest lecturers and students from the UNIS course Arctic Microbiology AB327/827.
Uncontrolled Keywords: aerobiology; bioaerosol; Arctic; polar; ecology; bacteria; marine; terrestrial; culture dependent; culture independent
Subjects: C500 Microbiology
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 14:49
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 08:16

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