On 13 August 2004, an atmospheric sample was collected at an altitude of 20,000 m along a west to east transect over the continental United States by NASA’s Stratospheric and Cosmic Dust Program. This sample was then shipped to the US Geological Survey’s Global Desert Dust program for microbiological analyses. This sample, which was plated on a low nutrient agar to determine if cultivable microorganisms were present, produced 590 small yellow to off-white colonies after approximately 7 weeks of incubation at room-temperature. Of 50 colonies selected for identification using 16S rRNA sequencing, 41 belonged to the family Micrococcaceae, seven to the family Microbacteriaceae, one to the genus Staphylococcus, and one to the genus Brevibacterium. All of the isolates identified were non-spore-forming pigmented bacteria, and their presence in this sample illustrate that it is not unusual to recover viable microbes at extreme altitudes. Additionally, the extended period required to initiate growth demonstrates the need for lengthy incubation periods when analyzing high-altitude samples for cultivable microorganisms.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Non-spore forming eubacteria isolated at an altitude of 20,000 m in Earth's atmosphere: extended incubation periods needed for culture-based assays|
|Contributing office(s)||Coastal and Marine Geology Program|
|Larger Work Type||Article|
|Larger Work Subtype||Journal Article|
|Larger Work Title||Aerobiologia|