Tong, Yongyi, and Bruce Lighthart. 1999. Diurnal concentration and particle size distribution of culturable bacteria and fungi in the ambient atmosphere at a rural site. Aerosol Science and Technology 30:246-254.
During the summer and fall of 1996, ambient air samples were collected using a high-volume wet sampler positioned 2 m above ground level in an agricultural area near Corvallis, Oregon. Samples were collected for approximately 2-hr periods from 0500 to 2100 hr on 11 days. Total and culturable atmospheric bacterial (TAB and CAB) concentrations in the samples were determined using epifluorescence microscopy and filtration-culture methods. It was found that the CAB concentration in the atmosphere was the lowest at dawn, gradually increased from sunrise to reach a maximum in the afternoon, and finally decreased in the evening. The TAB load had a similar but much less pronounced trend. The geometric mean of TAB concentration was about 27 to 222 times greater than that of CAB concentration in the atmosphere. A much higher TAB determination suggests that atmospheric bacteria might lay a greater role than expected when the culturable determination is used as an investigation method in allergic disease and ecological research. This finding also indicates the necessity for using nonculturable airborne pathogen detection methods such as those targeted on nucleic acid or other macromolecules, rather than the classical culturable methods currently used in airborne epidemiological investigation. The CAB to TAB ratio in the atmosphere was highest in the afternoon, coincident with the maximum CAB concentration. This could be explained by either or both of the following reasons: (1) the maximum live bacterial flux from the ground at the time does not have sufficient time to be rendered nonculturable before reaching the samplerís position; and (2) the prevalence of large, protected bacterial parti