Plant assemblages in atmospheric deposition
Plants disperse spores, pollen, and fragments into the atmosphere. The emitted plant particles return to the pedosphere by sedimentation (dry deposition) and/or by precipitation (wet deposition) and constitute part of the global cycle of substances. However, little is known regarding the taxonomic diversities and flux densities of plant particles deposited from the atmosphere. Here, plant assemblages were examined in atmospheric deposits collected in Seoul in South Korea. A custom-made automatic sampler was used to collect dry and wet deposition samples for which plant assemblages and quantities were determined using high-throughput sequencing and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with universal plant-specific primers targeting the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region. Dry deposition was dominant for atmospheric deposition of plant particles (87 %). The remaining 13 % was deposited by precipitation, i.e., wet deposition, via rainout (in-cloud scavenging) and/or washout (below-cloud scavenging). Plant assemblage structures did not differ significantly between dry and wet deposition, indicating a possibility that washout, which is possibly taxon-independent, predominated rainout, which is possibly taxon-dependent, for wet deposition of atmospheric plant particles. A small number of plant genera were detected only in wet deposition, indicating that they might be specifically involved in precipitation through acting as nucleation sites in the atmosphere. Future interannual monitoring will control for the seasonality of atmospheric plant assemblages observed at our sampling site. Future global monitoring is also proposed to investigate geographical differences and investigate whether endemic species are involved in plant-mediated bioprecipitation in regional ecological systems.