Seasonal Variations in the Characteristics of Microbial Community Structure and Diversity in Atmospheric Particulate Matter from Clean Days and Smoggy Days in Beijing


Microorganisms are an important part of atmospheric particulate matter and are closely related to human health. In this paper, the variations in the characteristics of the chemical components and bacterial communities in PM10 and PM2.5 grouped according to season, pollution degree, particle size, and winter heating stage were studied. The influence of environmental factors on community structure was also analyzed. The results showed that seasonal variations were significant. NO3 contributed the most to the formation of particulate matter in spring and winter, while SO42− contributed the most in summer and autumn. The community structures in summer and autumn were similar, while the community structure in spring was significantly different. The dominant phyla were similar among seasons, but their proportions were different. The dominant genera were no-rank_c_Cyanobacteria, Acidovorax, Escherichia-Shigella and Sphingomonas in spring; Massilia, Bacillus, Acinetobacter, Rhodococcus, and Brevibacillus in summer and autumn; and Rhodococcus in winter. The atmospheric microorganisms in Beijing mainly came from soil, water, and plants. The few pathogens detected were mainly affected by the microbial source on the sampling day, regardless of pollution level. RDA (redundancy analysis) showed that the bacterial community was positively correlated with the concentration of particulate matter and that the wind speed in spring was positively correlated with NO3 levels, NH4+ levels, temperature, and relative humidity in summer and autumn, but there was no clear consistency among winter samples. This study comprehensively analyzed the variations in the characteristics of the airborne bacterial community in Beijing over one year and provided a reference for understanding the source, mechanism, and assessment of the health effects of different air qualities.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code Availability

Not applicable.


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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51178048, 51378064 and 51678054).

Author information




Conceptualization: [Yujiao Sun]; Project administration: [Yujiao Sun]; Formal analysis and investigation: [Yujia Huang], [Shangwei Xu], [Jie Li], [Meng Yin]; Data Curation: [Yujia Huang], [Shangwei Xu]; Writing—original draft preparation: [Yujia Huang], [Shangwei Xu]; Writing—review and editing: [Yujia Huang]; Funding acquisition: [Yujiao Sun]; Resources: [Yujiao Sun], [Hezhong Tian]; Supervision: [Yujiao Sun].

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Shangwei Xu or Hezhong Tian.

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Sun, Y., Huang, Y., Xu, S. et al. Seasonal Variations in the Characteristics of Microbial Community Structure and Diversity in Atmospheric Particulate Matter from Clean Days and Smoggy Days in Beijing. Microb Ecol (2021).

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  • Atmospheric particulate matter
  • Microbial community
  • Smog pollution
  • Seasonal variation
  • Pathogen