Longitudinal survey of microbiome associated with particulate matter in a megacity

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Abstract

Background: While the physical and chemical properties of airborne particulate matter (PM) have been extensively studied, their associated microbiome remains largely unexplored. Here, we performed a longitudinal metagenomic survey of 106 samples of airborne PM2.5 and PM10 in Beijing over a period of 6 months in 2012 and 2013, including those from several historically severe smog events. Results: We observed that the microbiome composition and functional potential were conserved between PM2.5 and PM10, although considerable temporal variations existed. Among the airborne microorganisms, Propionibacterium acnes, Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter lwoffii, Lactobacillus amylovorus, and Lactobacillus reuteri dominated, along with several viral species. We further identified an extensive repertoire of genes involved in antibiotic resistance and detoxification, including transporters, transpeptidases, and thioredoxins. Sample stratification based on Air Quality Index (AQI) demonstrated that many microbial species, including those associated with human, dog, and mouse feces, exhibit AQI-dependent incidence dynamics. The phylogenetic and functional diversity of air microbiome is comparable to those of soil and water environments, as its composition likely derives from a wide variety of sources. Conclusions: Airborne particulate matter accommodates rich and dynamic microbial communities, including a range of microbial elements that are associated with potential health consequences.

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Qin, N., Liang, P., Wu, C., Wang, G., Xu, Q., Xiong, X., … Zhu, T. F. (2020). Longitudinal survey of microbiome associated with particulate matter in a megacity. Genome Biology, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13059-020-01964-x

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