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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 30 Oct 2018

Research article | 30 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Using flow cytometry and light-induced fluorescence technique to characterizethe variability and characteristics of bioaerosols in springtime at Metro Atlanta, Georgia

Arnaldo Negron1,2, Natasha DeLeon-Rodriguez3,a, Samantha M. Waters1,b, Luke D. Ziemba4, Bruce Anderson4, Michael Bergin5, Konstantinos T. Konstantinidis6,3, and Athanasios Nenes1,2,7,8,9 Arnaldo Negron et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • 2School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • 3School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • 4Chemistry and Dynamics Branch/Science Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681, USA
  • 5Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 2770, USA
  • 6School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • 7Institute of Environmental Research & Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, GR-15236, Greece
  • 8Institute for Chemical Engineering Science, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Patra, GR-26504, Greece
  • 9Laboratory of Atmospheric Processes and their Impacts (LAPI), School of Architecture, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, CH-1015, Switzerland
  • acurrently at: Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, Rio Piedras, 00927, Puerto Rico
  • bcurrently at: Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-3636

Abstract. The abundance and speciation of primary biological aerosol particles (PBAP) is important for understanding their impacts on human health, cloud formation and ecosystems. Towards this, we have developed a protocol for quantifying PBAP collected from large volumes of air with a portable wet-walled cyclone bioaerosol sampler. A flow cytometry (FCM) protocol was then developed to quantify and characterize the PBAP populations from the sampler, which were confirmed against epifluorescence microscopy. The sampling system and FCM analysis were used to study PBAP in Atlanta, GA over a two-month period and showed clearly defined populations of DNA-containing particles: Low Nucleic Acid-content particles (bioLNA), High Nucleic Acid-content particles (HNA) being fungal spores and pollen. We find that daily-average springtime PBAP concentration (1 to 5 μm diameter) ranged between 1.4 × 104 and 1.1 × 105 m−3. The BioLNA population dominated PBAP during dry days (72 ± 18 %); HNA dominated the PBAP during humid days and following rain events, where HNA (e.g., wet-ejected fungal spores) comprised up to 92 % of the PBAP number. Concurrent measurements with a Wideband Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor (WIBS-4A) showed that FBAP and total FCM counts are similar; HNA (from FCM) significantly correlated with ABC type FBAP concentrations throughout the sampling period (and for the same particle size range, 1–5 μm diameter). However, the FCM bioLNA population, possibly containing bacterial cells, did not correlate to any FBAP type. The lack of correlation of any WIBS FBAP type with the bioLNA suggest bacterial cells may be more difficult to detect with autofluorescence than previously thought. Ιdentification of bacterial cells even in the FCM (bioLNA population) is challenging, given that the fluorescence level of stained cells at times may be comparable to that seen from abiotic particles. HNA and ABC displayed highest concentration on a humid and warm day after a rain event (4/14), suggesting that both populations correspond to wet-ejected fungal spores. Overall, information from both instruments combined reveals a highly dynamic airborne bioaerosol community over Atlanta, with a considerable presence of fungal spores during humid days, and a bioLNA population dominating bioaerosol community during dry days.

Arnaldo Negron et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Arnaldo Negron et al.
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Short summary
Airborne biological particles impacts human health, cloud formation and ecosystems, but few techniques are available to characterize their atmospheric abundance. Combining a newly-developed high volume sampling/flow cytometry technique together with an laser-induced fluorescence instrument, we detect a highly dynamic bioaerosol community over urban Atlanta.
Airborne biological particles impacts human health, cloud formation and ecosystems, but few...