Air microbiome - characteristics of microorganisms living in urban dust and their impact on human health

Projects manager: Anna Philips, PhD, Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the PAS in cooperation with Barbara Błaszczak, PhD, Institute of Environmental Engineering, PAS

Ongoing project

With the advent of bulk DNA sequencing, understanding the "microbial community", or microbiome, in different environments has become one of the greatest challenges of modern microbiology. Bacteria inhabit almost every niche of our planet. Earth's diverse ecosystems are characterised by a great variety of bacteria inhabiting them, and many of them are crucial for the smooth functioning of other organisms and natural processes. The human body is no different. Each of us harbours about one hundred trillion bacteria that make up our body's microbiota. We are also highly dependent on which microorganisms populate our system, as their composition largely determines human health. In extreme cases, the presence of pathogens can lead to disease.

Bacteria accompany us in almost every activity, even breathing! Every time we breathe in, along with the air, we also inhale dust particles and various microorganisms that are present on them.The planned research is based on finding out the types of these micro-organisms and to what extent they are able to enter our bodies with the help of dust. It is also known that there are many more bacteria in polluted air (e.g. in big cities with smog) than in the air of rural areas. We want to investigate how the composition of dust and its sources (e.g. car exhaust, coal burning) affect the composition of the air microbiome and whether there are strains in it that affect human health. This will also enable the development of an air quality bioindicator that takes into account microbiological hazards. In addition, research into the microbiome of airborne dust near an infectious disease hospital will help answer the question of whether metropolitan dust promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance among bacteria.


Institute of Environmental Engineering of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Zabrze

41-819 Zabrze, ul. M. Skłodowskiej-Curie 34
tel.: +48 32 271 64 81
tel.: +48 32 271 70 40
e-mail: ipis@ipispan.edu.pl
NIP: 648-000-67-20