, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 61-73
Date: 02 Dec 2008

The effects of meteorological factors on airborne fungal spore concentration in two areas differing in urbanisation level

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Abstract

Although fungal spores are an ever-present component of the atmosphere throughout the year, their concentration oscillates widely. This work aims to establish correlations between fungal spore concentrations in Porto and Amares and meteorological data. The seasonal distribution of fungal spores was studied continuously (2005–2007) using volumetric spore traps. To determine the effect of meteorological factors (temperature, relative humidity and rainfall) on spore concentration, the Spearman rank correlation test was used. In both locations, the most abundant fungal spores were Cladosporium, Agaricus, Agrocybe, Alternaria and Aspergillus/Penicillium, the highest concentrations being found during summer and autumn. In the present study, with the exception of Coprinus and Pleospora, spore concentrations were higher in the rural area than in the urban location. Among the selected spore types, spring-autumn spores (Coprinus, Didymella, Leptosphaeria and Pleospora) exhibited negative correlations with temperature and positive correlations both with relative humidity and rainfall level. On the contrary, late spring-early summer (Smuts) and summer spores (Alternaria, Cladosporium, Epicoccum, Ganoderma, Stemphylium and Ustilago) exhibited positive correlations with temperature and negative correlations both with relative humidity and rainfall level. Rust, a frequent spore type during summer, had a positive correlation with temperature. Aspergillus/Penicillium, showed no correlation with the meteorological factors analysed. This knowledge can be useful for agriculture, allowing more efficient and reliable application of pesticides, and for human health, by improving the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory allergic disease.