Stratospheric microbiology at 20 km over the Pacific Ocean

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An aerobiology sampling flight at 20 km was conducted on 28 April 2008 over the Pacific Ocean (36.5° N, 118–149° W), a period of time that coincided with the movement of Asian dust across the ocean. The aim of this study was to confirm the presence of viable bacteria and fungi within a transoceanic, atmospheric bridge and to improve the resolution of flight hardware processing techniques. Isolates of the microbial strains recovered were analyzed with ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) sequencing to identify bacterial species Bacillus sp., Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus endophyticus, and the fungal genus Penicillium. Satellite imagery and ground-based radiosonde observations were used to measure dust movement and characterize the high-altitude environment at the time of collection. Considering the atmospheric residency time (7–10 days), the extreme temperature regime of the environment (-75°C), and the absence of a mechanism that could sustain particulates at high altitude, it is unlikely that our samples indicate a permanent, stratospheric ecosystem. However, the presence of viable fungi and bacteria in transoceanic stratosphere remains relevant to understanding the distribution and extent of microbial life on Earth.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Stratospheric microbiology at 20 km over the Pacific Ocean
Series title Aerobiologia
DOI 10.1007/s10453-009-9141-7
Volume 26
Issue 1
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Springer
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Florida Integrated Science Center-Tallahassee, Florida Water Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 35
Last page 46
Other Geospatial Pacific Ocean