Airborne prokaryotic, fungal and eukaryotic communities of an urban environment in the UK

Ho-Kyung Song, Nicholas Marsden, Jonathan Lloyd, Clare Robinson, Christopher Boothman, Ian Crawford, Martin Gallagher, Hugh Coe, Grant Allen, Michael Flynn

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Bioaerosols often contain human pathogens and allergens affecting public health. However, relatively little attention has been given to bioaerosols compared with non-biological aerosols. In this study, we aimed to identify bioaerosol compositions in Manchester, UK by applying high throughput sequencing methods and to find potential sources. Samples were collected at Manchester Air Quality Super Site at the Firs Environmental Research Station in November 2019 and in February 2020. Total DNA has been extracted and sequenced targeting the 16S rRNA gene of prokaryotes, ITS region of fungal DNA and 18S rRNA gene of eukaryotes. We found marine environment-associated bacteria and archaea were relatively more abundant in the February 2020 samples compared with the November 2019 samples, consistent with the North West marine origin based on wind back-trajectory analysis. In contrast, an OTU belonging to Methylobacterium, which includes many species resistant to heavy metals, was relatively more abundant in November 2019 when there were higher metal concentrations. Fungal taxa that fruit all year were relatively more abundant in the February 2020 samples while autumn fruiting species generally had higher relative abundance in the November 2019 samples. There were higher relative abundances of land plants and algae in the February 2020 samples based on 18S rRNA gene sequencing. One of the OTUs belonging to the coniferous yew genus Taxus was more abundant in the February 2020 samples agreeing with the usual pollen season of yews in the UK which is from mid-January until late April. The result from this study suggests a potential application of bioaerosol profiling for tracing the source of atmospheric particles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1212
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number8
Early online date1 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • microbial community
  • urban
  • bioaerosol
  • UK
  • high throughput sequencing


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