• aerosol;
  • agricultural;
  • bioaerosol;
  • biosolids;
  • 16S rRNA


Aims:  The purpose of this study was to determine the diversity of bacterial communities associated with bioaerosols generated during land application of biosolids using 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) PCR.

Methods and Results:  Anaerobically digested Class B biosolids were land applied to an agricultural site located in South Central Arizona. Aerosol samples were collected downwind of the biosolids operations and were collected via the use of SKC Biosamplers and subsequently extracted for the presence of bacterial community DNA. All DNA was amplified using 16S rRNA primers, cloned and sequenced. All sequences were aligned and phylogenetic trees were developed to generate community profiles. The majority of aerosolized bacterial clone sequences belonged to the Actinobacteria and alpha- and beta-proteobacterial taxa. Aerosol samples collected downwind of soil aerosolization produced similar profiles. These profiles differed from upwind and background samples.

Conclusions:  No one clone sequence isolated from the aerosol samples could be solely attributed to biosolids; on the contrary, the majority appeared to have arisen from soil.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  This study demonstrates that in dry, arid climates the majority of aerosols associated with biosolids land application appear to be associated with the onsite soil.