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Oral: Pathogen Dispersal


Plant pathogens were collected over Florida up to 3500 m by a wing-mounted dust collection system called DART (Dust Atmospheric Recovery Technology)
A. SCHUERGER (1), B. Tench (2), T. Emmons (3), J. Palaia (4) (1) University of Florida, U.S.A.; (2) Dept. of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, U.S.A.; (3) Dept. of Engineering, Univ. of Central Florida, U.S.A.; (4) 4Frontiers Corporation, U.S.A.

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Asian dust plumes deliver up to 64 million tonnes of dust over the NW of the USA, and African dust storms deliver over 50 million tonnes of dust over Florida each year. Recent studies have demonstrated that plant pathogens associated with Asian and African aerosols can be transported to the USA in naturally occurring dust storms. In order to initiate a long-term monitoring program of plant pathogens in Asian and African dust plumes, we have developed a dust collection system called DART (Dust Atmospheric Recovery Technology). The DART dust sampler was mounted on a F104 Starfighter jet and separately on a T6 Texan propeller driven airplane and test flown over FL in 2013-2014. The DART system utilizes a high-volume pump to pass air through 4 separate filtration units where both aerosols and microbial cells are captured. Flow rates through filters are directly correlated to increased air speed, and are inversely correlated to increased altitude. The DART dust sampler has performed nominally up to 7600 m, 0.92 Mach, and 3.5 +G’s. During initial test flights in 2013 and 2014, fungi recovered from the lower troposphere over FL (up to 3500 m) contained plant pathogens including species in the genera: Acremonium, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Curvularia, and Fusarium. Numbers of recovered fungi, but not bacteria, increased significantly when 5 or 10 µm filters were used in the DART system compared to filter pore sizes ≤ 2 µm.