Fungal aerobiota are not affected by time nor environment over a 13-y time series at the Mauna Loa Observatory
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Fungal aerobiota are not affected by time nor environment over a 13-y time series at the Mauna Loa Observatory
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    PNAS December 17, 2019 116 (51) 25728-25733
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Fungal aerobiota are not affected by time nor environment over a 13-y time series at the Mauna Loa Observatory
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  • Description:
    Fungi are ubiquitous and often abundant components of virtually all ecosystems on Earth, serving a diversity of functions. While there is clear evidence that fungal-mediated processes can influence environmental conditions, and in turn select for specific fungi, it is less clear how fungi respond to environmental fluxes over relatively long time frames. Here we set out to examine changes in airborne fungi collected over the course of 13 y, which is the longest sampling time to date. Air filter samples were collected from the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) on Hawaii Island, and analyzed using Illumina amplicon sequencing. As a study site, MLO is unique because of its geographic isolation and high elevation, making it an ideal place to capture global trends in climate and aerobiota. We found that the fungal aerobiota sampled at MLO had high species turnover, but compositional similarity did not decrease as a function of time between samples. We attribute these patterns to neutral processes such as idiosyncratic dispersal timing and trajectories. Furthermore, the composition of fungi at any given point was not significantly influenced by any local or global environmental variables we examined. This, and our additional finding of a core set of persistent fungi during our entire sampling period, indicates some degree of stability among fungi in the face of natural environmental fluctuations and human-associated global change. We conclude that the movement of fungi through the atmosphere is a relatively stochastic process.
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