Biogeography in the air: fungal diversity over land and oceans
Biogenic aerosols are relevant for the Earth system, climate, and public health on local, regional, and global scales. Up to now, however, little is known about the diversity and biogeography of airborne microorganisms. We present the first DNA-based analysis of airborne fungi on global scales, showing pronounced geographic patterns and boundaries. In particular we find that the ratio of species richness between Basidiomycota and Ascomycota is much higher in continental air than in marine air. This may be an important difference between the "blue ocean" and "green ocean" regimes in the formation of clouds and precipitation, for which fungal spores can act as nuclei. Our findings also suggest that air flow patterns and the global atmospheric circulation are important for the understanding of global changes in biodiversity.