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Airborne fungal spore monitoring: between analyst proficiency testing

Abstract

This study presents the results of a Europe-wide training and Quality Control (QC) exercise carried out within the framework of the European Aerobiology Society’s QC Working Group. The main aim of this exercise was to examine the feasibility of carrying out a QC exercise for fungal spore monitoring in Europe, using a similar methodology to the one previously used for pollen. The QC survey was conducted in two parts: (1) Coordinators of national and regional aerobiological networks in Europe involved in the monitoring of atmospheric fungal spores were invited to complete a questionnaire survey related to their network and asked whether they were interested in taking part in an external inter-laboratory QC exercise; (2) Participating networks performed an inter-laboratory ring test with the same sample slide in order to determine the reproducibility of identifying and counting two fungal spore taxa (Alternaria and Epicoccum) in air samples collected by a Hirst-type volumetric spore trap. Participants were instructed to read five separate longitudinal transects in the “effective collecting area” of the slide. Reproducibility of analysis was determined following the method previously used in the European Aerobiology Society’s QC exercises for pollen. Thirty-two counters from 16 national or regional networks in Europe participated in the QC exercise. Coefficients of Variation (CV%) ranged from 23.0 to 22.5 when reading one transect and from 14.0 to 16.0 when reading five transects for Alternaria and Epicoccum, respectively. Considering a CV% of 30 as the limit for fungal spores, no significant differences were observed between the absolute errors from two, three, four and five transects. The only significant difference was between one and five transects. We recommend that fungal spore analysis should be carried out on about 5% of the slide (two transects in this study) because results were not significantly different to five transects.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the EAS QC Working Group, for their important contribution on this topic in the frame of the European Aerobiology Society (EAS).

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Correspondence to C. Galán.

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Galán, C., Smith, M., Damialis, A. et al. Airborne fungal spore monitoring: between analyst proficiency testing. Aerobiologia 37, 351–361 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10453-021-09698-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10453-021-09698-4

Keywords

  • Quality control
  • Fungal spore
  • External exercise