Microbiology and atmospheric processes: chemical interactions of primary biological aerosols
Abstract. This paper discusses the influence of primary biological aerosols (PBA) on atmospheric chemistry and vice versa through microbiological and chemical properties and processes. Several studies have shown that PBA represent a significant fraction of air particulate matter and hence affect the microstructure and water uptake of aerosol particles. Moreover, airborne micro-organisms, namely fungal spores and bacteria, can transform chemical constituents of the atmosphere by metabolic activity. Recent studies have emphasized the viability of bacteria and metabolic degradation of organic substances in cloud water. On the other hand, the viability and metabolic activity of airborne micro-organisms depend strongly on physical and chemical atmospheric parameters such as temperature, pressure, radiation, pH value and nutrient concentrations. In spite of recent advances, however, our knowledge of the microbiological and chemical interactions of PBA in the atmosphere is rather limited. Further targeted investigations combining laboratory experiments, field measurements, and modelling studies will be required to characterize the chemical feedbacks, microbiological activities at the air/snow/water interface supplied to the atmosphere.