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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Mysterious Microbes in the Sky

The Atlantic

It’s well known that the human gut is a thriving bacterial ecosystem—not to mention the skin, lungs, and various other parts of the body. But the breadth and depth of microbes’ participation in many systems on the planet are still not widely understood. For instance, there is evidence that there are microbes in the clouds, hitching thousand-mile rides through the atmosphere and helping to cause rain or snow along the way.

Some of these cloud microbes seem to come from the soil, but others are likely rising up out of the ocean, a riotous soup of bacteria and viruses. In a new study in Nature Communications, researchers used a 13,000-liter tank of seawater to observe what microbial species are in the water and which manage to become airborne in sea spray, thus launching themselves into the atmosphere.

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