Indoor-air microbiome in an urban subway network : Diversity and dynamics

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6760-6770
Journal / PublicationApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume80
Issue number21
Online published6 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Abstract

Subway systems are indispensable for urban societies, but microbiological characteristics of subway aerosols are relatively unknown. Previous studies investigating microbial compositions in subways employed methodologies that underestimated the diversity of microbial exposure for commuters, with little focus on factors governing subway air microbiology, which may have public health implications. Here, a culture-independent approach unraveling the bacterial diversity within the urban subway network in Hong Kong is presented. Aerosol samples from multiple subway lines and outdoor locations were collected. Targeting the 16S rRNA gene V4 region, extensive taxonomic diversity was found, with the most common bacterial genera in the subway environment among those associated with skin. Overall, subway lines harbored different phylogenetic communities based on α- and β-diversity comparisons, and closer inspection suggests that each community within a line is dependent on architectural characteristics, nearby outdoor microbiomes, and connectedness with other lines. Microbial diversities and assemblages also varied depending on the day sampled, as well as the time of day, and changes in microbial communities between peak and nonpeak commuting hours were attributed largely to increases in skin-associated genera in peak samples. Microbial diversities within the subway were influenced by temperature and relative humidity, while carbon dioxide levels showed a positive correlation with abundances of commuter-associated genera. This Hong Kong data set and communities from previous studies conducted in the United States formed distinct community clusters, indicating that additional work is required to unravel the mechanisms that shape subway microbiomes around the globe.

Citation Format(s)

Indoor-air microbiome in an urban subway network : Diversity and dynamics. / Leung, Marcus H.Y.; Wilkins, David; Li, Ellen K.T.; Kong, Fred K.F.; Lee, Patrick K.H.

In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 80, No. 21, 11.2014, p. 6760-6770.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal