International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 61–73 | Cite as

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

  • M. Oliveira
  • H. Ribeiro
  • J. L. Delgado
  • I. AbreuEmail author
Original Paper


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.


Meteorological factor Portugal Rural area Spore concentration Urban area 



The authors are grateful to Prof. Dr. Manuel de Barros, from the Instituto Geofísico da Universidade do Porto, and Eng. Guerner-Moreira, from the Direcção Regional de Agricultura e Pescas do Norte - Divisão de Protecção e Controle Fitossanitário, for the meteorological data provided. This work was partially supported by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (project: 77161) and a grant from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BD/18765/2004).


  1. Angulo-Romero J, Mediavilla-Molina A, Domínguez-Vilches E (1999) Conidia of Alternaria in the atmosphere of the city of Cordoba, Spain in relation to meteorological parameters. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 43:45–49Google Scholar
  2. Bruno A, Pace L, Tomassetti B, Coppola E, Verdecchia M, Pacioni G, Visconti G (2007) Estimation of fungal spore concentrations associated to meteorological variables. Aerobiologia 23:221–228. doi: 10.1007/s10453–007–9066-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burch M, Levetin E (2002) Effects of meteorological conditions on spore plumes. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 46:107–117Google Scholar
  4. Corden J, Millington W (2001) The long-term trends and seasonal variation of the aeroallergen Alternaria in Derby. UK Aerobiologia 17:127–136. doi: 10.1023/A:1010876917512 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Damialis A, Gioulekas D (2006) Airborne allergenic fungal spores and meteorological factors in Greece: forecasting possibilities. Grana 45:122–129. doi: 10.1080/00173130600601005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fernández D, Valencia R, Molnár T, Vega A, Sagüés E (1998) Daily and seasonal variations of Alternaria and Cladosporium airborne spores in León (North-West, Spain). Aerobiologia 14:215–220. doi: 10.1007/BF02694209 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gillum S, Levetin E (2008) The air spora close to a compost facility in Northeast Oklahoma: Part I—spore trap sampling. Aerobiologia 24:3–12. doi: 10.1007/s10453–007–9074-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Giner M, Garcia J, Camacho C (2001) Airborne Alternaria spores in SE Spain (1993–98): Occurrence patterns, relationship with weather variables and prediction models. Grana 40:111–118. doi: 10.1080/00173130152625842 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gonzalo M, Paredes M, Muñoz A, Tormo R, Silva I (1997) Dinámica de dispersión de basidiosporas en la atmósfera de Badajoz. Rev Esp Alergol Inmunol Clin 12:294–300Google Scholar
  10. Guinea J, Peláez T, Alcalá L, Bouza E (2006) Outdoor environmental levels of Aspergillus spp. conidia over a wide geographical area. Med Mycol 44:349–356. doi: 10.1080/13693780500488939 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hasnain Sm, Fatima K, Al-Frayh A, Al-Sedairy St (2005) One-year pollen and spore calendars of Saudi Arabia: Al-Khobar, Abha and Hofuf. Aerobiologia 21:241–247. doi: 10.1007/s10453–005–9000–0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Henriquez V, Villegas G, Nolla J (2001) Airborne fungi monitoring in Santiago, Chile. Aerobiologia 17:137–142. doi: 10.1023/A:1010833101583 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Herrero A, Ruiz S, Bustillo M, Morales P (2006) Study of airborne fungal spores in Madrid, Spain. Aerobiologia 22:133–140. doi: 10.1007/s10453–006–9025-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kasprzyk I, Worek M (2006) Airborne fungal spores in urban and rural environments in Poland. Aerobiologia 22:169–176. doi: 10.1007/s10453–006–9029–8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Katial R, Zhang Y, Jones R, Dyer P (1997) Atmospheric mold spore counts in relation to meteorological parameters. Int J Biometeorol 41:17–22. doi: 10.1007/s004840050048 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lacey M, West J (2006) The air spora. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  17. Li D-W, Kendrick B (1995) A year-round study on functional relationships of airborne fungi with meteorological factors. Int J Biometeorol 39:74–80. doi: 10.1007/BF01212584 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Meteorologia (1992) Normais climatológicas 1961–1990 (Serra do Pilar) (Meteorologia, I.d. (ed) Instituto de Meteorologia, Lisboa, pp 1–3Google Scholar
  19. Mitakakis T, Guest D (2001) A fungal spore calendar for the atmosphere of Melbourne, Australia, for the year 1993. Aerobiologia 17:171–176fs. doi: 10.1023/A:1011028412526 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Molina A, Angulo Romero J, Garcia-Pantaleon I, Comtois P, Vilches E (1998) Preliminary statistical modeling of the presence of two conidial types of Cladosporium in the atmosphere of Cordoba, Spain. Aerobiologia 14:229–234. doi: 10.1007/BF02694211 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mullins J, Hutcheson P, Slavin R (1984) Aspergillus fumigatus spore concentration in outside air: Cardiff and St Louis compared. Clin Exp Allergy 14:351–354. doi: 10.1111/j.1365–2222.1984.tb02215.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Myszkowska D, Stepalska D, Obtulowicz K, Porebski G (2002) The relationship between airborne pollen and fungal spore concentrations and seasonal pollen allergy symptoms in Cracow in 1997–1999. Aerobiologia 18:153–161. doi: 10.1023/A:1020603717191 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nilsson S (1983) Atlas of airborne fungal spores in Europe. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  24. Oliveira M, Ribeiro H, Abreu I (2005) Annual variation of fungal spores in the atmosphere of Porto: 2003. Ann Agric Environ Med 12:309–315PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Pepeljnjak S, Segvi M (2003) Occurrence of fungi in air and on plants in vegetation of different climatic regions in Croatia. Aerobiologia 19:11–19. doi: 10.1023/A:1022693032075 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rodríguez-Rajo F, Iglesias I, Jato V (2005) Variation assessment of airborne Alternaria and Cladosporium spores at different bioclimatical conditions. Mycol Res 109:497–507a. doi: 10.1017/S0953756204001777 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosas I, Escamilla B, Calderon C, Mosiño P (1990) The daily variations of airborne fungal spores in Mexico City. Aerobiologia 6:153–158. doi: 10.1007/BF02539108 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rosas I, Calderon C, Ulloa M, Lacey J (1993) Abundance of airborne penicillium CFU in relation to urbanization in Mexico City. Appl Environ Microbiol 58:2648–2652Google Scholar
  29. Sabariego S, Díaz De La Guardia C, Alba F (2000) The effect of meteorological factors on the daily variation of airborne fungal spores in Granada (southern Spain). Int J Biometeorol 44:1–5. doi: 10.1007/s004840050131 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Troutt C, Levetin E (2001) Correlation of spring spore concentrations and meteorological conditions in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Int J Biometeorol 45:64–74. doi: 10.1007/s004840100087 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ISB 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Oliveira
    • 1
  • H. Ribeiro
    • 1
  • J. L. Delgado
    • 2
  • I. Abreu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Grupo de Ambiente, Sociedade e Educação do Centro de Geologia & Departamento de Botânica, Faculdade de CiênciasEdificio FC4PortoPortugal
  2. 2.Serviço e Laboratório de Imunologia, Faculdade de MedicinaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

Personalised recommendations