Long-range transport of airborne microbes over the global tropical and subtropical ocean

Eva Mayol, J M Arrieta, Maria A. Jiménez, Adrián Martínez-Asensio, Neus Garcias-Bonet, Jordi Dachs, Belén González-Gaya, Sarah-J. Royer, Verónica M. Benítez-Barrios, Eugenio Fraile-Nuez, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations

Abstract

The atmosphere plays a fundamental role in the transport of microbes across the planet but it is often neglected as a microbial habitat. Although the ocean represents two thirds of the Earth's surface, there is little information on the atmospheric microbial load over the open ocean. Here we provide a global estimate of microbial loads and air-sea exchanges over the tropical and subtropical oceans based on the data collected along the Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition. Total loads of airborne prokaryotes and eukaryotes were estimated at 2.2 × 1021 and 2.1 × 1021 cells, respectively. Overall 33-68% of these microorganisms could be traced to a marine origin, being transported thousands of kilometres before re-entering the ocean. Moreover, our results show a substantial load of terrestrial microbes transported over the oceans, with abundances declining exponentially with distance from land and indicate that islands may act as stepping stones facilitating the transoceanic transport of terrestrial microbes.The extent to which the ocean acts as a sink and source of airborne particles to the atmosphere is unresolved. Here, the authors report high microbial loads over the tropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and propose islands as stepping stones for the transoceanic transport of terrestrial microbes..
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 4 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This is a contribution to the Malaspina Expedition 2010, funded by the INGENIO 2010 CONSOLIDER program (ref. CDS2008-00077) of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. We thank the crew of R/V Hespérides for their invaluable support and for providing the chlorophyll data, J. Baldrich Justel for his help with processing samples and the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the provision of the HYSPLIT model (http://www.ready.noaa.gov) used in this publication. E.M. and M.A.J. acknowledge the ‘Junta para la Ampliación de Estudios’ program (JAE-predoc and JAE-doc contracts, respectively) from CSIC, supplied by the European Social Fund. A.M.-A. acknowledges an FPI grant funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. B.G.-G. acknowledges a predoctoral fellowship from the BBVA Foundation. We thank the Boundary-Layer Height data and the NCEP atmospheric reanalysis provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado from their Web site at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/. Bathymetry was obtained from the GEBCO Digital Atlas published by the British Oceanographic Data Centre, on behalf of IOC and IHO, 2003.

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Long-range transport of airborne microbes over the global tropical and subtropical ocean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • air metagenome Raw sequence reads

    Mayol, E. (Creator), Arrieta, J. M. (Creator), Jiménez, M. A. (Creator), Martínez-Asensio, A. (Creator), Dachs, J. (Creator), González-Gaya, B. (Creator), Royer, S.-J. (Creator), Benítez-Barrios, V. M. (Creator), Fraile-Nuez, E. (Creator), Duarte, C. M. (Creator), Garcias-Bonet, N. (Creator), Mayol, E. (Creator), Arrieta, J. M. (Creator), Jiménez, M. A. (Creator), Martínez-Asensio, A. (Creator), Dachs, J. (Creator), González-Gaya, B. (Creator), Royer, S.-J. (Creator), Benítez-Barrios, V. M. (Creator) & Fraile-Nuez, E. (Creator), NCBI, Apr 25 2016

    Dataset

Cite this