Contribution of airborne microbes to bacterial production and N2 fixation in seawater upon aerosol deposition

Eyal Rahav, Galit Ovadia, Adina Paytan, Barak Herut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Aerosol deposition may supply a high diversity of airborne microbes, which can affect surface microbial composition and biological production. This study reports a diverse microbial community associated with dust and other aerosol particles, which differed significantly according to their geographical air mass origin. Microcosm bioassay experiments, in which aerosols were added to sterile (0.2 μm filtered and autoclaved) SE Mediterranean Sea (SEMS) water, were performed to assess the potential impact of airborne bacteria on bacterial abundance, production, and N2 fixation. Significant increase was observed in all parameters within a few hours, and calculations suggest that airborne microbes can account for one third in bacterial abundance and 50-100% in bacterial production and N2-fixation rates following dust/aerosol amendments in the surface SEMS. We show that dust/aerosol deposition can be a potential source of a wide array of microorganisms, which may impact microbial composition and food web dynamics in oligotrophic marine systems such as the SEMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-727
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • Mediterranean Sea
  • N fixation
  • aerosol deposition
  • airborne bacteria
  • bacterial production
  • dust deposition


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