|Year : 2012 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 61-65
Occurrence of microbes causing respiratory ailments in a garden of Davangere
BE Rangaswamy1, KK Prakash1, Francis Fernandes1, BV Ravishankar1, S Shanmukhappa2
1 Department of Biotechnology and Research Centre, Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology, Visvesvaraya Technological University, Davangere, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Chemical Engineering and Research Centre, Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology, Visvesvaraya Technological University, Davangere, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||27-May-2013|
B E Rangaswamy
Department of Biotechnology and Research Centre, Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology, Visvesvaraya Technological University, Davangere - 577 004, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
An investigation of the quality of air and the quantity of airborne microbes in one of the gardens of Davanagere was conducted for 1 year to assess the level of airborne pathogens. The main aim of this work was to determine the microbiological content of the aerial ambience in the garden of Davangere, with special focus on bacterial and fungal contaminants. The media used for the study of fungi was Sabaroud chloramphenicol agar. Aspergillus spp, Curvularia spp, Alternaria spp, Penicillium spp, Rhizopus spp, Nigrospora spp, Fusarium spp, Mucor spp and Cladosporium spp were commonly found in the selected six sampled areas of the garden; of these, Asergillus spp, Penicillium spp and Pithomyces spp were found to be dominant. The concentration level of airborne bacteria was also measured with proper media. Selected bacterial genera such as Escherichia coli, Klebsialla spp, Pseudomonas spp, Salmonella spp, Staphylococcus spp, Proteus spp and Enterococcus spp were found in the garden. In the sampling, bacterial counts were influenced by temperature while aerosol fungi correlated to temperature and relative humidity. Taking into consideration the entire assay, the concentration of the fungi was considerably high in the winter and rainy season whereas the concentration of bacteria was remarkably high in the summer season.
Keywords: Airborne, bacteria, fungi, garden
|How to cite this article:|
Rangaswamy B E, Prakash K K, Fernandes F, Ravishankar B V, Shanmukhappa S. Occurrence of microbes causing respiratory ailments in a garden of Davangere. Indian J Allergy Asthma Immunol 2012;26:61-5
|How to cite this URL:|
Rangaswamy B E, Prakash K K, Fernandes F, Ravishankar B V, Shanmukhappa S. Occurrence of microbes causing respiratory ailments in a garden of Davangere. Indian J Allergy Asthma Immunol [serial online] 2012 [cited 2023 Jan 29];26:61-5. Available from: https://www.ijaai.in/text.asp?2012/26/2/61/112549
| Introduction|| |
Microorganisms are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, but their proportion varies according to the environmental conditions and locations. Generally, a higher microbial concentration is found in urban areas than in the surrounding rural areas. ,, The concentration of airborne microorganisms shows topological, geographical, diurnal and seasonal variations. Airborne microbial quantity and quality can vary with time of the day, year and location. ,, The biological materials that are associated with the suspended inert dust include pollen, viruses, spores and vegetative cells of both bacterial and fungal origin.  Aerosol dispersal of pathogens such as bacteria and fungi pose important health and ecological issues. Previous investigations have reported that exposure to large concentrations of airborne microbes is often associated with asthma and rhinitis,  hypersensitivity, pneumonitis  and a number of other health hazards.
The main aim of this work was to determine the microbiological content of the aerial ambience in the garden of Davanagere, which is located in the interiors of Karnataka, 14° 28' latitude, 75° 59' longitude and 602.5 meters (1,977 ft) above sea level. Many airborne microorganisms are either pathogenic or can cause sensitivities due to prolonged exposure.  Airborne microbes attach to dust particles, condense and enter the human body directly via inhalation or indirectly via ingestion of contaminated foods and water,  resulting in the development of disease.  Airborne bacteria can also affect visibility, climate and quality of life. ,, It is important to know the distribution pattern of live bioaerosols at different sites in the urban environment. To this purpose, the concentration and diversity of the predominant microbial populations was recorded during April 2011 to March 2012 in Davangere to evaluate the potential for microbial air pollution and other associated risks. This study was aimed at understanding the distribution pattern of microbes in the air. The importance of estimation of quantity and types of airborne bacteria and fungi can be used as an index for nature of the environment as well as an index they bear in relation to human health.
| Materials and Methods|| |
The garden site was selected as it was in the residential area of the city. Around 400-500 people visit this garden per week, and, to some extent, this is one of the cleanest gardens of the city, measuring 400 m × 130 m. The garden is surrounded by roads and has diversified flora with trees, shrubs, herbs and several ornamental plants.
To analyze the bacteria and fungi, air samples were collected from six representative sites according to the following differential characteristics. Lush green areas, the places with big trees and much shade, the areas open to bright sunlight, secluded areas, places with much man movement and areas with continuous water flow. In our preliminary investigation, sampling of the air in the garden was performed with a Merck, MAS-100NT microbial air monitoring system, manufactured by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. It is a high-performance instrument based on the principle of the Anderson air sampler. It serves to measure the microorganisms in clean rooms and sterile environments, especially in hygienically highly sensible areas. Air is aspirated though a perforated lid and impacted onto the surface of the growth media in a standard 90 mm Petridish. Microorganisms are aspirated on the culture media and, after a proper incubation, the colonies formed can be counted. The sampling head is provided with 300 × 0.6 mm holes and the aspiration capacity is 100 L/min. However, with 15 s and for 25 L, the Petriplates showed enormous/overcrowded growth of fungi and bacteria. The fungi were overcrowded within 3 days and the bacteria were overcrowded within 1 day; therefore, we had to switch to the gravitational settle plate method. Petriplates of size 90 mm with the bacterial and fungal media were exposed for 10 min in the sampling sites. Sampling was carried out twice a month for 1 year. The sampling plates were kept at a height of 2 feet from the ground level on the resting benches of the garden.
Isolation and identification of fungi
For the isolation of the fungi, Sabouraud chloramphenicol agar (SCA) was used. After the sampling, the SCA plates were incubated at 25 ± 1°C up to 5 days. With the use of lactophenol blue solution, a wet mount preparation of the fungi was prepared and this was observed microscopically. Identification of the same was based mainly on the appearance of the colony, microscopic examination of the spore and the hyphal characteristics.
Isolation and identification of bacteria
The samples from each sampled unit were taken and used for the enumeration and isolation of the airborne bacteria. For the quantitative isolation of bacteria, Soybean casein digest agar was used. For selective or differential analysis of certain dominant infectious bacteria, HiCrome urinary tract infection agar  and HiCrome Escherichia More Details coli and Coliform agar media  were used. Sampled plates were incubated at 35-37°C for 24-48 h. Identification of the same was based mainly on formation of chrome by the colony on differential agar, staining and by biochemical methods.
| Results|| |
Davanagere city is characterized by three seasons: summer, winter and rainy, and the temperature varies accordingly. [Table 1] shows the following variation in temperature was recorded during the annual assay.
The average concentration of the fungi and bacteria per plate was thus calculated. Of the samples collected for the month, the individual colonies were counted manually and they were later identified. An average was taken for the individual colonies for the fungal and bacterial concentrations. Thus [Table 2] and [Table 3] show the Average concentration of fungi and bacteria per plate in the various months of the entire assay.
|Table 2: Average concentration of fungi/plate in the various months of the entire assay|
Click here to view
|Table 3: Average concentration of bacteria/plate in the various months of the entire assay|
Click here to view
| Discussion|| |
Environmental conditions such as relative humidity (RH), temperature and wind velocity exert a significant effect on the type of population and the amount of microorganisms in the air. ,, Generally, microbes enter into the atmosphere from natural (vegetation and soil) and anthropogenic sources, but their survival and distribution depend on the cell structure of microbes and meteorological conditions. ,, Taking into consideration various parameters the concentration of bacteria was comparatively higher than fungi [Figure 1].
|Figure 1: Average fungal and bacterial concentration per plate during entire assay|
Click here to view
In our study, almost all airborne fungi isolated grew in filamentous forms and gave rise to characteristic colonies on the SCA medium. Colony morphology, coupled with microscope analyses of both hyphae and spores, allowed to establish the relative abundance of the more common genera detected. The common fungi obtained during the sampling were Aspergillus spp, Curvularia spp, Pithomyces spp, Alternaria spp, Penicillium spp, Rhizopus spp, Nigrospora spp, Fusarium spp, Mucor spp and Cladosporium spp. As shown in the [Figure 2], Aspergillus spp recorded 37%, Curvularia spp 6%, Alternaria spp 11%, Pithomyces spp 14%, Penicillium spp 12%, Rhizopus spp 5%, Nigrospora spp 4%, Fusarium spp 4%, Mucor spp 2% and Cladosporium spp 5%. The most predominant fungus was Aspergillus spp. This great abundance of fungi in different environments is due to ease of dispersion of fungal spores in the air in both indoor and outdoor environments.  Aspergillus and Penicillium produce mycotoxins such as aflatoxins, secalonic acid, zearalenone and tricothecenes that may affect the immunological response of lung tissues or cause other hazards to human health. Aspergillus spp and Penicillium spp are said to pose potential threats to the inmates , being implicated in allergic disease and induce acute intoxication and many adverse effects to human health, such as carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, hormonal, hemorrhagic, immunotoxic, nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, dermatoxic, neurotoxic, antibiotic, hematological changes, releasers of interleukins and lipid peroxidation.  Many activities like traffic, constructions and people gathering in urban areas contribute largely to outdoor microbial load. , Airborne microbial quantity and quality can vary with time of the day, year and location. When it comes to the concentration of the fungi, there was a significant variation in the quantitative and the qualitative analyses. The fungi were quantitatively high during the rainy (June-September) and the winter (December) seasons, and comparatively less in the summer (March-May) season.
The concentration of bacteria during the entire assay showed that they grew exorbitantly in the month of May, i.e. in the summer, and the lowest bacterial growth was recorded in the month of January, which is, to some extent, winter in the sampled city. Moderate temperature, moderate humidity and overly rainfall were associated with the lowest incidence of bacterial flora.  The airborne bacteria at the site are derived from a variety of source environments, including soils, leaf surfaces and lush green grasses.  Selected pathogens like E. coli, Klebsialla spp, Pseudomonas spp, Salmonella More Details spp, Staphylococcus spp, Proteus spp and Enterococcus spp were found in the garden. When it comes to the quantitative concentration as depicted in [Figure 3], the most dominant bacteria was Staphylococcus spp, constituting 25%, and the lowest was Enterococcus spp, constituting only 8%; the composition of the rest was E. coli 16%, Klebsialla spp 20%, Pseudomonas spp 18% and Proteus spp 13%. Staphylococcus spp being the dominant bacteria in the garden, is a commensal microorganism, and can cause opportunistic infections when the host resistance is compromised, especially when a primary infection such as influenza is present. Because it exists ubiquitously, the mortality rate is high and it is responsible for many respiratory tract, digestive system, post-operative infections, urinary tract and skin disorders with multi-antibiotic resistance.  The presence of gram negative bacteria may increase the health risk because they posses strong allergenic and endotoxic effects, fever, malaise and decreased pulmonary function. 
| Conclusion|| |
Air can be somehow compared with an ocean in many physical and biological aspects because of the existence of heterogeneous turbulences, mixture of components and irregular distribution of the elements involved. Hence, data on airborne contamination may be influenced by multiple variables that are continuously changing, and, consequently, they offer an informative flash rather than to describe a steady situation. However, in spite of the restrictions of these type of studies, our results clearly make it possible to draw a contamination profile with general quantitative and qualitative conclusions. 
Many airborne microorganisms are either pathogenic or can cause sensitivities due to prolonged exposure.  Airborne microbes attach to dust particles, condense and enter the human body directly via inhalation or indirectly via ingestion of contaminated foods and water,  resulting in the development of disease.  The quantity of microorganisms in air depends, to some extent, on meteorological conditions such as RH, temperature, UV radiation and wind speed. ,, The relative water content of the air is supposed to be important for the survival of airborne microorganisms. Airborne bacteria can also affect visibility, climate and the quality of life. ,, It is important to know the distribution pattern of live bioaerosols at different sites in the urban environment. Therefore, to evaluate the potential for microbial air pollution and other associated risks, current viable microbial levels must be monitored.
| Acknowledgments|| |
The authors would like to acknowledge the Management of Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology for all the assistance given to carry out this research.
| References|| |
|1.||Bovallius A, Bucht B, Roffey R, Anas P. Three-year investigation of the natural airborne bacterial flora at four localities in Sweden. Appl. Environ. Microbiol 1978;35:847-52. |
|2.||Lighthart B. The ecology of bacteria in the alfresco atmosphere. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 1997;23:263-71. |
|3.||Shaffer BT, Lighthart B. Survey of culturable airborne bacteria at four diverse locations in oregon: Urban, rural, forest, and coastal. Microb Ecol 1997;34:167-77. |
|4.||Abdel Hameed AA, Khoder MI, Yuosra S, Osman AM, Ghanem S. Diurnal distribution of airborne bacteria and fungi in the atmosphere of Helwan area, Egypt. Sci Total Environ 2009;407:6217-22. |
|5.||Fierer N, Liu Z, Rodriguez-Hernandez M, Knight R, Henn M, Hernandez MT. Short-term temporal variability in airborne bacterial and fungal populations. Appl Environ Microbiol 2008;74:200-7. |
|6.||Madigan MT, Martinko JM, Parker J. Brock biology of microorganisms. 10 th ed. NJ, USA: Prentice Hall; 2008. |
|7.||Beaumont F. Clinical manifestations of pulmonary Aspergillus infections. Mycoses 1988;31:15-20. |
|8.||Siersted HC, Gravesen S. Extrinsic allergic alveolitis after exposure to the yeast Ehodotorula rubra. Allergy 1993;48:298-9. |
|9.||Griffin DW. Atmospheric movement of microorganisms in clouds of desert dust and implications for human health. Clin Microbiol Rev 2007;20:459-77. |
|10.||Gorbushina AA, Palinska KA. Biodeteriorative processes on glass: Experimental proof of the role of fungi and cynobacteria. Aerobiologia 1999;15:183-93. |
|11.||Heldman DR. Factors influencing airborne contamination of foods: A review. J. Food Sci 1974;39:962-9. |
|12.||Beggs CB. The airborne transmission of infection in hospital buildings: fact or fiction? Indoor Built Environ 2003;12:9-18. |
|13.||Martiny JB, Bohannan BJ, Brown JH, Colwell RK, Fuhrman JA, Green JL, et al. Microbial biogeography: putting microorganisms on the map. Nat Rev Microbiol 2006;4:102-12. |
|14.||Collee JG, Fraser AG, Marmion BP, Simmons. Mackie and McCartney, Practical Medical Microbiology, 14 th ed, Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone; 1996. |
|15.||Delisle GJ, Ley A. Rapid detection of Escherichia coli in urine samples by a new chromogenic P-Glucuronidase assay. J Clin Microbiol, 1989;27:778-9. |
|16.||Harrison RM, Jones AM, Biggins PD. Climate factors influencing bacterial count in background air samples. Int J Biometeorol 2005;49:167-78. |
|17.||Jones AM, Harrison RM. The effects of meteorological factors on atmospheric bioaerosol concentrations-a review. Sci Total Environ 2004;326:151-80. |
|18.||Mouli PC, Mohan SV, Reddy SJ. Assessment of microbial (bacteria) concentrations of ambient air at semi-arid urban region: Influence of meteorological factors. App Ecol Environ Res 2005;3:139-49. |
|19.||Aira M, Jato V, Stchigel A, Rodríguez-Rajo F, Piontelli E. Aeromycological study in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Int Biodeterior Biodegrad 2007;60:231-7. |
|20.||Krajewska-Kulak E, Lukaszuk C, Tsokantaridis CH, Hatzopoulu A, Theodosopoyloy E, Hatzmanasi D, et al. Indoor air studies of fungi contamination at the neonatal department and intensive care unit an palliative care in Kavala hospital in Greece. Adv Med Sci 2007;52:11-4. |
|21.||Apetrei IC, Draganescu GE, Popescu IT, Crap-Carare C, Guguianu E and Mihaescu TM, et al. Possible cause of allergy for the librarians: books manipulations and ventilation as source of fungus spores spreading. Aerobiologia 2009;25:159-66. |
|22.||Balasubramanian R, Nainar P, Rajasekar A. Airborne bacteria, fungi, and endotoxin levels in residential microenvironments: a case study. Aerobiologia 2011. |
|23.||Fang Z, Ouyang Z, Hu L, Wang X, Zheng H, Lin X. Culturable airborne fungi in outdoor environments in Beijing, China. Sci. Total Environ 2005;350:47-58. |
|24.||Fang Z, Ouyang Z, Zheng H, Wang X, Hu L. Culturable airborne bacteria in outdoor environments in Beijing, China. Microb Ecol 2007;54:487-96. |
|25.||Bhowmick BK, Rashid H. Bacteriological study of Chittagang City area. Pak J Biol Sci 2004;7:1616-9. |
|26.||Bowers RM, McCubbin IB, Hallar AG, Fierer N. Seasonal variability in airborne bacterial communities at a high-elevation site. Atmospheric Environ 2012;50:41-9. |
|27.||Sanaa O, Yagoub, Agbash AE. Isolation of pathogenic bacteria from the air of hospital-delivery and nursing rooms. J Appl Sci 2010;10:1011-4. |
|28.||Reanprayoon P, Yoonaiwong W. Airborne concentration of bacteria and fungi Thailand border market. Aerobiologia 2012;28:49-60. |
|29.||Soto T, Lozano M, Vicente-Soler J, Cansado J, Gacto M. Microbiological survey of the aerial contamination in urban areas of the city of Murcia, Spain. Anales de Biologia 2009;31:7-13. |
|30.||Cox CS. Bacterial survival in suspension in polyethylene glycol solutions. J Gen Microbiol. 1966;45:275-81. |
|31.||Larson EW. Environmental variables and microbial survival. In: Hers JF, Winkler KC, editors. Airborne transmission and airborne infection. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Oosthoek Publishing Co.; 1973. p. 81-96. |
[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]