Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
13 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).
Lifestyle dependent occurrence of airborne fungi
Daniel A. Pickersgill1,2, Jörn Wehking1,2, Hauke Paulsen2, Eckhard Thines2, Ulrich Pöschl1, Janine Fröhlich-Nowoisky1, and Viviane R. Després1,2 1Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Multiphase Chemistry Department, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, 55128 Mainz, Germany
2Institute of Molecular Physiology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Johannes-von-Müller-Weg 6, 55128 Mainz, Germany
Abstract. Fungi play important roles in the environment, agriculture, and human health. Most fungal species spread by wind-driven dispersal of spores, determining their occurrence and distribution in different environments. The dynamics of airborne fungi and their dependence on lifestyle and environmental conditions, however, are not well characterized. Here, we categorize the fungi detected in coarse and fine aerosol samples from continental boundary layer air using a lifestyle classification scheme that differentiates whether the fungi are (A) primarily associated to herbaceous or woody plants and (B), whether they are saprophytic, plant pathogenic, or surface inhabitants.

Herbaceous fungi exhibit stronger seasonal variations and correlations with meteorological factors. We find two distinct clusters when viewing the distribution of the fungi between the coarse and fine size fractions. Pathogenic and surface-inhabiting herbaceous fungi are shifted towards the coarse size fraction, adapted to impaction on plant surfaces, while saprophytic fungi are shifted towards the fine fraction or are evenly distributed, adapted more to sedimentation and longer atmospheric residence times.

Wood fungi display sporadic occurrences, seen for most saprophytes, or year-round occurrences with seasonal to polycyclic peaks seen amongst pathogens. In comparison to herbaceous fungi they show weaker correlations with meteorological factors. They display more even coarse-fine distributions, which may be an adaptation to the calm conditions beneath the forest canopy. The differences reflect lifestyle-dependent sporulation strategies which may facilitate and improve the assessment and forecasting of the abundance and spread of pathogenic fungi and related issues such as crop protection in view of land-use and climate change.

Citation: Pickersgill, D. A., Wehking, J., Paulsen, H., Thines, E., Pöschl, U., Fröhlich-Nowoisky, J., and Després, V. R.: Lifestyle dependent occurrence of airborne fungi, Biogeosciences Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Daniel A. Pickersgill et al.
Daniel A. Pickersgill et al.
Daniel A. Pickersgill et al.


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Short summary
To investigate lifestyle dependent sporulation strategies of wind-dispersed fungi, species and genera identified in environmental air samples were grouped according to their lifestyles or ecological niches. Findings revealed unrecognized characteristic patterns in the seasonal occurrence and size distribution of fungal spores for different types of pathogenic and saprophytic fungi growing on herbaceous and woody plants.
To investigate lifestyle dependent sporulation strategies of wind-dispersed fungi, species and...