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News

Microbes on the move, Microbiology Today: November 2005 issue

Society For General Microbiology : 03 November, 2005  (Company News)
Clouds of desert dust are moving vast numbers of microbes around the globe, which can be harmful or beneficial to downwind communities, according to an article in the November 2005 issue of Microbiology Today, the quarterly magazine of the Society for General Microbiology.
Clouds of desert dust are moving vast numbers of microbes around the globe, which can be harmful or beneficial to downwind communities, according to an article in the November 2005 issue of Microbiology Today, the quarterly magazine of the Society for General Microbiology.

Nutrient-rich clouds of desert dust are havens for microbiological life and help to transport huge numbers of microbes through the atmosphere. 'Very few studies have been carried out in which the main focus is the movement of micro-organisms in clouds of desert dust,' says Dr Dale W. Griffin of the US Geological Survey in Florida.

'Different types of microbes are able to survive in the atmosphere and can be carried thousands of miles,' explains Dr Griffin. 'Despite the physical stresses of temperature, dehydration and ultra-violet light damage, many species are genetically equipped to deal with the rigors of atmospheric transport.'

Downwind, however, disease-causing microbes can create havoc on an unsuspecting community. Every year, following dust storms in the Americas, there are small outbreaks of a fungal disease called valley fever.

But, many marine and land plants benefit and get their nutrients from dust cloud fallout. 'In fact, research has shown that plant life in the upper canopy of the Amazon rain forest derives nutrients from African dust,' explains Dr Griffin.

'Research in this field is demonstrating just how small our world is,' says Dr Griffin. 'The processes occurring on one continent may impact the welfare of those on another regardless of distance.'

Air surrounds us and we breathe in all that it contains every day, gases, dust particles and microbes. This issue of Microbiology Today looks at the microbes in our air, from how they get there and survive to how they move from around the globe.

These are just some of the articles that appear, together with all the regular features and reports of Society activities.
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