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Aerobiology: Towards an Atlas of the Atmosphere

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posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:39 AM
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The air is teeming with microbes, and scientists are finally starting to understand how they influence everything from meteorology to epidemiology.


There are up to 100 million microorganisms in every cubic meter of air. And we've known for a while that microbes riding on airborne desert dust travel freely between Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. But now, researchers plan to map the microorganisms in our atmosphere.

Jessica Green, microbial ecologist at the University of Oregon, suspects the atmosphere is a microbial "habitat" - an ecological niche for microbes. If true, this could shake the foundations of several sciences.


Many researchers still view the atmosphere solely as a conduit for the transportation of microbes by wind, but not a habitat in and of itself. Green, however, said she believes that the atmosphere has everything a microbe would need to survive: tolerable temperatures, reasonable pH levels, and sources of organic carbon that are on par with soil and water. It's just a matter of surveying the air to discover whether the microbes are metabolically active for extended periods of time while suspended in cloud water and in the air, she said, which would suggest that they are inhabitants of the atmosphere rather than passengers on the wind.

"If the atmosphere is a habitat where microbes live, this will fundamentally change our conceptions of atmospheric processes," Green added.




Related: A 2006 study found 1800 different species of organisms in the air above San Antonio and Austin, Texas - including bioweapons-related pathogens.




posted on Dec, 22 2010 @ 01:13 PM
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Hmmm. No attention.

...imho - It's astounding to think of our atmosphere as a distinct ecosystem / habitat. ...and the idea that we can "map" the atmosphere is equally intriguing.



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