Ecological and Evolutionary Science

Dust Storms Have Signature Microbiomes, Depending on Their Origin

Researchers at Chaim Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel investigated the genetic signatures of microbiomes from sand and dust storms from the Sahara desert, the Saudi peninsula, and Syria and found that the bacteria they carried were different and matched the bacterial population and environmental conditions of their places of origin.  The storms, which plague Israel on a regular basis and compromise human health, also carried antibiotic-resistant bacteria common in soils, so the team looked at whether these imports exacerbated the antibiotic-resistance problems caused by human overuse and animal husbandry.

Yinon Rudich and colleagues Daniela Gat and Yinon Mazar from Weizmann, Eddie Cytryn of the Volcani Center, and Yigal Erel from the University of Jerusalem conducted the research and found that, while they could identify genetic signatures for bacteria from each location based on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes, the mixing that occurred between local dust and sandstorm dust lowered the impact of the imported antibiotic resistance genes and they posed a very minor threat compared to the problems produced by human activity, especially animal husbandry.

For more information, go to Environ Sci Technol DOI: 10..1021/acs.est.5b06348.


Image credit: Flavia via