Articles | Volume 9, issue 7
Research article
26 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 26 Jul 2016

Chamber catalogues of optical and fluorescent signatures distinguish bioaerosol classes

Mark Hernandez, Anne E. Perring, Kevin McCabe, Greg Kok, Gary Granger, and Darrel Baumgardner

Abstract. Rapid bioaerosol characterization has immediate applications in the military, environmental and public health sectors. Recent technological advances have facilitated single-particle detection of fluorescent aerosol in near real time; this leverages controlled ultraviolet exposures with single or multiple wavelengths, followed by the characterization of associated fluorescence. This type of ultraviolet induced fluorescence has been used to detect airborne microorganisms and their fragments in laboratory studies, and it has been extended to field studies that implicate bioaerosol to compose a substantial fraction of supermicron atmospheric particles. To enhance the information yield that new-generation fluorescence instruments can provide, we report the compilation of a referential aerobiological catalogue including more than 50 pure cultures of common airborne bacteria, fungi and pollens, recovered at water activity equilibrium in a mesoscale chamber (1 m3). This catalogue juxtaposes intrinsic optical properties and select bandwidths of fluorescence emissions, which manifest to clearly distinguish between major classes of airborne microbes and pollens.

Short summary
We have performed laboratory experiments examining a large set of known bacterial, fungal and pollen species using a Wideband Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor (WIBS). The instrumental response is shown to be sufficiently distinct for these classes of particles to distinguish between them, and this library will provide a framework for interpretation of UV-induced fluorescence measurements of atmospheric bioaerosol. Atmospheric implications and instrumental considerations are discussed.