Aeolian dust exerts a notable influence on atmospheric and oceanic conditions and human health, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions like Saudi Arabia. Dust is often characterized by its mineral and chemical composition, but there is a microbiological component of natural aerosols which has received comparatively little attention. Moreover, the amount of materials suspended in the atmosphere is highly variable from day to day. Thus, knowing the loads of dust and suspended microbes and its variability over the year is essential to understand the possible effects of dust on the Red Sea ecosystem. Here, we present the first estimates of dust and microbial loads at a coastal side on the Red Sea over a two-year period supplemented with information from dust samples collected along the Red Sea in offshore water and their variability. Weekly average dust loads ranged from 4.63 to 646.11 μg m-3, while the abundance of airborne prokaryotic cells and viral particles ranged from 31,457 to 608,333 cells m-3 and from 69,615.5 to 3,104,758 particles m-3, respectively. These are the first estimates of airborne microbial abundance that we are aware of in this region. The large number of dust particles and suspended microbes found in the air indicates that airborne microbes may have a large impact on our health and that of the Red Sea ecosystem.
|Date made available
|KAUST Research Repository