Aerobiology and the global transport of desert dust

Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Nov;21(11):638-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2006.07.004. Epub 2006 Jul 14.


Desert winds aerosolize several billion tons of soil-derived dust each year, including concentrated seasonal pulses from Africa and Asia. These transoceanic and transcontinental dust events inject a large pulse of microorganisms and pollen into the atmosphere and could therefore have a role in transporting pathogens or expanding the biogeographical range of some organisms by facilitating long-distance dispersal events. As we discuss here, whether such dispersal events are occurring is only now beginning to be investigated. Huge dust events create an atmospheric bridge over land and sea, and the microbiota contained within them could impact downwind ecosystems. Such dispersal is of interest because of the possible health effects of allergens and pathogens that might be carried with the dust.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Biodiversity
  • Desert Climate
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious
  • Dust*
  • Geography
  • Pollen
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Wind*


  • Dust