Contribution of fungal spores to particulate matter in a tropical rainforest

Ting Zhang, Guenter Engling, Chuen Yu Chan, Yi Nan Zhang, Zhi Sheng Zhang, Mang Lin, Xue Fang Sang, Y. D. Li, Yok Sheung Li

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74 Citations (Scopus)


The polyols arabitol and mannitol, recently proposed as source tracers for fungal spores, were used in this study to estimate fungal contributions to atmospheric aerosol. Airborne particulate matter (PM2.5and PM10) was collected at Jianfengling Mountain, a tropical rainforest on Hainan Island situated off the south China coast, during spring and analyzed for arabitol and mannitol by high-performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD). The average concentrations of arabitol and mannitol exhibited high values with averages of 7.0 and 16.0 ng m-3respectively in PM2.5and 44.0 and 71.0 ng m-3in PM10. The two tracers correlated well with each other, especially in the coarse mode aerosol (PM2.5-10), indicating they were mainly associated with coarse aerosol particles and had common sources. Arabitol and mannitol in PM10showed significant positive correlations with relative humidity, as well as positive correlations with average temperature, suggesting a wet emissions mechanism of biogenic aerosol in the form of fungal spores. We made estimations of the contribution of fungal spores to ambient PM mass and to organic carbon, based on the observed ambient concentrations of these two tracers. The relative contributions of fungal spores to the PM10mass were estimated to range from 1.6 to 18.2%, with a rather high mean value of 7.9%, and the contribution of fungal spores to organic carbon in PM10 ranged from 4.64 to 26.1%, with a mean value of 12.1%, implying that biological processes are important sources of atmospheric aerosol.
Original languageEnglish
Article number024010
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Molecular tracers
  • Polyols
  • Primary biogenic aerosol particles
  • Source contribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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