|Fungal Spore Richness in School Classrooms is Related to Surrounding Forest in a Season-Dependent Manner
|Minahan, Nicholas T.
|Aeroallergen; Airborne fungi; Amplicon sequencing; Dispersal; Indoors; Passive sampling
Airborne fungal spores are important aeroallergens that are remarkably diverse in terms of taxonomic richness. Indoor fungal richness is dominated by outdoor fungi and is geographically patterned, but the influence of natural landscape is unclear. We aimed to elucidate the relationship between indoor fungal spore richness and natural landscape by examining the amount of surrounding forest cover. Passive sampling of airborne fungal spores was conducted in 24 schools in Taiwan during hot and cool seasons, and amplicon sequencing was used to study fungal spore (genus) richness targeting the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region. In total, 693 fungal genera were identified, 12 of which were ubiquitous. Despite overall similarity of fungal spore richness between seasons, Basidiomycota and Ascomycota richness increased during the hot and cool seasons, respectively. Fungal spore richness in schools had a strong positive correlation with the amount of surrounding forest cover during the cool season, but not during the hot season. Fungal assemblages in schools were more similar during the hot season due to the increased ubiquity of Agaricomycetes genera. These observations indicate dispersal limitation at the kilometer scale during the cool season and increased long-distance dispersal during the hot season. Several allergenic fungi were commonly identified in schools, including some previously overlooked by conventional methods, which may be targeted as sensitizing agents in future investigations into atopic conditions. More generally, the relative importance of fungal spore richness in the development, chronicity, and severity of atopic conditions in children requires investigation.
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