Active microorganisms thrive among extremely diverse communities in cloud water
by Pierre Amato, Muriel Joly, Ludovic Besaury, Anne Oudart, Najwa Taib, Anne I. Moné, Laurent Deguillaume, Anne-Marie Delort, Didier DebroasClouds are key components in Earth’s functioning. In addition of acting as obstacles to light radiations and chemical reactors, they are possible atmospheric oases for airborne microorganisms, providing water, nutrients and paths to the ground. Microbial activity was previously detected in clouds, but the microbial community that is active in situ remains unknown. Here, microbial communities in cloud water collected at puy de Dôme Mountain’s meteorological station (1465 m altitude, France) were fixed upon sampling and examined by high-throughput sequencing from DNA and RNA extracts, so as to identify active species among community members. Communities consisted of ~103−104 bacteria and archaea mL-1 and ~102−103 eukaryote cells mL-1. They appeared extremely rich, with more than 28 000 distinct species detected in bacteria and 2 600 in eukaryotes. Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes largely dominated in bacteria, while eukaryotes were essentially distributed among Fungi, Stramenopiles and Alveolata. Within these complex communities, the active members of cloud microbiota were identified as Alpha- (Sphingomonadales, Rhodospirillales and Rhizobiales), Beta- (Burkholderiales) and Gamma-Proteobacteria (Pseudomonadales). These groups of bacteria usually classified as epiphytic are probably the best candidates for interfering with abiotic chemical processes in clouds, and the most prone to successful aerial dispersion.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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