Identification of microorganisms carried by aeolian dust to other continents and their impact on public health

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Aeolian dust originates from wind erosion of the regolith-the loose rock and dust layer of bedrock-and consists of soil particles found in deserts or arid regions. The term “Aeolian” comes from the Greek word “Aeolus,” who wasthe God of winds in ancient Greece. Aeolian dust events arise from deserts of different continents such as the Sahara and Sahel deserts in Africa, Australian deserts (the Simpson and Strzelecki deserts) as well as Lake Eyre Basin and the western sector of the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, the Taklamakan, Gobi and Badain Jaran deserts as well as the Loess plateau in Asia. The desert dust can actually be transported over long distances by air currents that are able to carry it even to other continents (Revel-Rolland et al., 2006; Yamaguchi et al., 2012). For example, more than one million tons of Asian dust particles, which travel a distance of 3000-5000 km, reach Japan every year ( Furthermore, dust from North Africa has been reported in many European countries including Greece (Crete), Spain, Italy, UK, France (Alps), and Scandinavia (Stevenson, 1969; Ricq de Bouard and Thomas, 1972; Bergametti et al., 1989; Nihlén and Mattsson, 1989; Rodá et al., 1993; Franzén et al., 1994). Similarly, dust from Africa reaches the United States and Caribbean (Prospero, 1999; Prospero and Lamb, 2003). At the global level, estimates have shown that 0.5-5 billion tons of desert dust migrates by air annually (Perkins, 2001). The majority of the dust (50-75%) comes from the NorthAfrican deserts, even though in the last few decades there has been an increased migration of dust from Asia, due to changes in the climate and desertification (Moulin et al., 1997; Goudie and Middleton, 2001; Prospero and Lamb, 2003; Zhanget al., 2003).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Biotechnology
Subtitle of host publicationBiodegradation, Bioremediation, and Bioconversion of Xenobiotics for Sustainable Development
PublisherApple Academic Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781771883634
ISBN (Print)9781771883627
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA sequencing
  • Aeolian dust
  • Air sampling device
  • Asthma
  • Microorganisms
  • Multi-stage impactors
  • Public health
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Scanning electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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