Dr. Laura Tipton has been awarded the Sloan Foundation Microbiology of the Built Environment (MoBE) Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her project, the Aerobiota of the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), will fully characterize the fungal and bacterial communities captured over the last decade by air filters at the MLO on the island of Hawai’i.

In 2000, collaborators from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) installed an active air sampler system at MLO to collect samples to analyze aerosol particulate matter. Filters were collected when fully saturated with particulates, about every 4 days for 13 years. These filters trapped and preserved all particles smaller than 10 μm including spores of many fungi and airborne bacteria. With samples dating from 2000 through 2012, the MLO samples represent one of the longest aerobiota and microbial community studies available.

“I am excited to be working approximately 188 miles northwest of MLO, in the laboratory of Dr. Nicole Hynson in the Department of Botany at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.” says Dr. Tipton.

“From this wealth of samples, we plan to (1) determine the relationship between fungal aerobiota and global climate and local weather patterns, and (2) characterize relationships between fungi and bacteria at MLO. Analyzing global patterns will help us determine where our fungi originate from and how their communities shift in relationship to key climatic variables. We will then look at the relationships between fungi, as well as with the bacteria present on the same air filters. Altogether, this project will offer a complete overview of the aerobiota community captured at MLO. This project will add knowledge of the diversity and biogeography of aerobiota, including both fungi and bacteria.” continues Dr. Tipton.

For more information, see Hynson Lab.