University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Climate change impact on fungi in the atmospheric microbiome

Hanson, Mary, Petch, Geoffrey, Ottosen, Thor-Bjorn and Skjøth, C. ORCID: (2022) Climate change impact on fungi in the atmospheric microbiome. Science of the Total Environment, 830. p. 154491. ISSN Print: 0048-9697 Online: 1879-1026

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The atmospheric microbiome is one of the least studied microbiomes of our planet. One of the most abundant, diverse and impactful parts of this microbiome is arguably fungal spores. They can be very potent outdoor aeroallergens and pathogens, causing an enormous socio-economic burden on health services and annual damages to crops costing billions of Euros. We find through hypothesis testing that an expected warmer and drier climate has a dramatic impact on the atmospheric microbiome, conceivably through alteration of the hydrological cycle impacting agricultural systems, with significant differences in leaf wetness between years (p-value <0.05). The data were measured via high-throughput sequencing analysis using the DNA barcode marker, ITS2. This was complemented by remote sensing analysis of land cover and dry matter productivity based on the Sentinel satellites, on-site detection of atmospheric and vegetation variables, GIS analysis, harvesting analysis and footprint modelling on trajectory clusters using the atmospheric transport model HYSPLIT. We find the seasonal spore composition varies between rural and urban zones reflecting both human activities (e.g. harvest), type and status of the vegetation and the prevailing climate rather than mesoscale atmospheric transport. We find that crop harvesting governs the composition of the atmospheric microbiome through a clear distinction between harvest and post-harvest beta-diversity by PERMANOVA on Bray-Curtis dissimilarity (p-value <0.05). Land cover impacted significantly by two-way ANOVA (p-value <0.05), while there was minimal impact from air mass transport over the three years. The hypothesis suggests that the fungal spore composition will change dramatically due to climate change, an until now unforeseen effect affecting both food security, human health and the atmospheric hydrological cycle. Consequently the management of crop diseases and impact on human health through aeroallergen exposure need to consider the timing of crop treatments and land management, including post harvest, to minimize exposure of aeroallergens and pathogens

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Spores, Metabarcoding, eDNA, HYSPLIT, GIS, Remote sensing
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Depositing User: Carsten Skjoth
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2022 12:16
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2022 06:30

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