Dispersal is a key force in the assembly of fungal communities and the air is the dominant route of dispersal for most fungi. Understanding the dynamics of airborne fungi is important for determining their source and for helping to prevent fungal disease. This understanding is important in the San Joaquin Valley of California, which is home to 4.2 million people and where the airborne fungus Coccidioides is responsible for the most important fungal disease of otherwise healthy humans, coccidioidomycosis. The San Joaquin Valley is the most productive agricultural region in the United States, with the principal crops grown therein susceptible to fungal pathogens. Here, we characterize the fungal community in soil and air on undeveloped and agricultural land in the San Joaquin Valley using metabarcoding of the internal transcribed spacer 2 variable region of fungal rDNA. Using 1002 individual samples, we report one of the most extensive studies of fungi sampled simultaneously from air and soil using modern sequencing techniques. We find that the air mycobiome in the San Joaquin Valley is distinct from the soil mycobiome, and that the assemblages of airborne fungi from sites as far apart as 160km are far more similar to one another than to the fungal communities in nearby soils. Additionally, we present evidence that airborne fungi in the San Joaquin Valley are subject to dispersal limitation and cyclical intra-annual patterns of community composition. Our findings are broadly applicable to understanding the dispersal of airborne fungi and the taxonomic structure of airborne fungal assemblages.
Wagner R, Montoya L, Gao C, Head JR, Remais J, Taylor JW. (2022). The air mycobiome is decoupled from the soil mycobiome in the California San Joaquin Valley. Molecular ecology