Contribution of soil bacteria to the atmosphere across biomes

Stephen D.J. Archer, Kevin C. Lee, Tancredi Caruso, Antonio Alcami, Jonathan G. Araya, S. Craig Cary, Don A. Cowan, Claudia Etchebehere, Batdelger Gantsetseg, Benito Gomez-Silva, Sean Hartery, Ian D. Hogg, Mayada K. Kansour, Timothy Lawrence, Charles K. Lee, Patrick K.H. Lee, Matthias Leopold, Marcus H.Y. Leung, Teruya Maki, Christopher P. McKayDina M. Al Mailem, Jean Baptiste Ramond, Alberto Rastrojo, Tina Šantl-Temkiv, Henry J. Sun, Xinzhao Tong, Bryan Vandenbrink, Kimberley A. Warren-Rhodes, Stephen B. Pointing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The dispersion of microorganisms through the atmosphere is a continual and essential process that underpins biogeography and ecosystem development and function. Despite the ubiquity of atmospheric microorganisms globally, specific knowledge of the determinants of atmospheric microbial diversity at any given location remains unresolved. Here we describe bacterial diversity in the atmospheric boundary layer and underlying soil at twelve globally distributed locations encompassing all major biomes, and characterise the contribution of local and distant soils to the observed atmospheric community. Across biomes the diversity of bacteria in the atmosphere was negatively correlated with mean annual precipitation but positively correlated to mean annual temperature. We identified distinct non-randomly assembled atmosphere and soil communities from each location, and some broad trends persisted across biomes including the enrichment of desiccation and UV tolerant taxa in the atmospheric community. Source tracking revealed that local soils were more influential than distant soil sources in determining observed diversity in the atmosphere, with more emissive semi-arid and arid biomes contributing most to signatures from distant soil. Our findings highlight complexities in the atmospheric microbiota that are relevant to understanding regional and global ecosystem connectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162137
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Atmospheric microbiology
  • Biogeography
  • Microbial dispersal
  • Soil microbiology
  • Source tracking


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